Systems of cissexism and the daily production of stress for transgender and gender diverse people
Date of this Version
International Journal of Transgender Health 2023, VOL. 24, NO. 1, 113–126
Background: Transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people encounter a range of minority stressors (e.g., harassment, victimization, misgendering) that impact many areas of life. Much of the empirical literature on gender minority stress has utilized frameworks that were developed with a focus on sexual orientation and were often limited to cisgender sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other non-heterosexual individuals), leaving questions about how well existing models fit the experiences of TGD people.
Aims: To expand understandings of gender minority stress, we conducted a daily diary study where participants detailed the types of stressors they encountered on a daily basis for 56 days.
Methods: There were 181 TGD participants recruited into the study (M age = 25.6 years; SD = 5.6), with 167 retained in the daily surveys from which these analyses were conducted.
Results: The written responses revealed a variety of stressors, some of which are novel to the literature. Many participants reported instances of non-affirmation, such as misgendering, as well as vicarious stress when learning of oppressive experiences impacting other TGD people and seeing negative media portrayals of the lives of TGD individuals. Participants also reported bodily vigilance when being on alert for how others were perceiving their gender. Other stressors included rejection, political oppression, physical violence, uneasiness from others, and the enforcement of gender binarism.
Discussion: These findings highlight gaps in the existing understandings of marginalization for TGD people that must be addressed to ensure that frameworks include and center the experiences of gender minorities.