Transgender health has become a center of attention in the LGBTQ+ community. Since 2019, trans identity has been more visible all over the world. The conversation about transgender rights in politics and general society has recently become more intense. Here we look at minority stress in the transgender community.
Despite the growing numbers and the knowledge of trans existence, trans individuals are still experiencing discrimination and are denied essential services such as medical services. Due to the challenges faced by the trans people community, these experience health challenges such as depression and minority stress.
What is Minority Stress?
Individuals who are members of the stigmatized groups are likely to be more vulnerable to psychological distress known as minority stress. This type of stress can be due to internalized stigmatization, lack of social support, and low socioeconomic status. Individuals discriminated against and are prejudiced are more likely to experience minority stress.
The study of minority stress has focused on two minority groups, racial and sexual minorities, and the effects of stress on their general health.
Black Americans have higher rates of hypertension, unlike the white population regarding social and economic challenges they endure as minorities.
Sexual minorities such as transgender people experience huge levels of stigma and discrimination. This can lead to physical stress response with symptoms like anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure.
Transgender people are at high risk of having poor physical and mental health due to stigma. Minority stress theory, a concept behind the issues affecting minority groups, shows that social interactions in minority groups can significantly impact one’s health.
According to the study of minority stress, the LGBTQ+ community is more likely to have suicidal thoughts, abuse substances, and are likely to get cancer than the general population.
Causes of Minority Stress
Although there have been efforts to link certain health problems in minority groups to genetics, most studies are not supporting this theory but instead believe that environmental factors cause these disparities. Social situations are more likely to cause distress than genetic factors that may lead to health challenges. Minority groups experience distress in low social and economic status, limited access to medical services, and other important things.
The minority stress theory revolves around relationships between minority and dominant values resulting in conflict with the social environment. Sexual minorities (LGBTQ+) deals with homophobic customs that can be very hostile. For ethnic minorities, racism and discrimination based on skin color and background can trigger stress.
Minority stress isn’t the same for every minority group. It depends on the experiences and challenges of a given group. Sexual and racial minorities may experience stress concerning discrimination, violence among other factors. Perceived discrimination may cause someone to smoke a lot or abuse substances and, in some cases, develop a bad eating habit.
Being verbally bullied or experiencing physical harm regarding minority status may cause distress which can cause mental challenges and may be undiagnosed for a long period. Sexual minorities often experience stress since they may be hiding their sexual orientation. Rejection and internalized homophobia are also risk factors for stress. Individuals who experience reoccurring discrimination are at a higher risk of developing symptoms of minority stress.
What Are The Effects Of Stress On Health?
By now, it’s evident that stress can cause a major impact on someone’s health, regardless of their status. When someone is in distress, stress hormones are released. When the stress-response system is at work for a long time, it disrupts many of the body’s processes and increases the risk of multiple health challenges.
For people who experience stress factors frequently, their bodies learn to adapt to prolonged stress periods which lead to the creation of cumulative biological burden. Cumulative stress is the main risk factor that causes other health challenges such as depression, obesity, diabetes, among others.
Ethnic minorities are more disadvantaged healthwise than the white population since they are exposed to high levels of stress in different ways. Discrimination, education, low or lack of medical services, and low economic status contribute to the higher stress levels.
Sexual minorities have higher mental challenges than heterosexuals due to stigmatization, harassment, and internalized homophobia.
Ways to Reduce Minority Stress
Since it is now evident that minority stress can cause a lot of physical and mental harm, it is important to know ways of reducing it. As earlier stated, minority stress is linked to discrimination and prejudice.
Treating others with equality means you are not discriminating against them. Whether someone belongs to the minority in terms of race or sexual orientation, they deserve respect and equality.
There should also be mechanisms to enable minority groups to access essential services such as health services. Belonging to minority groups and being denied medical services can be overwhelming to everyone regardless of their race and sexual orientation.
The bottom line is equality. Equality brings equal employment opportunities, access to medical services, and so on. There would be fewer cases of discrimination and harassment with equality, leading to low cases of minority stress.
The levels of minority stress correspond with a person’s experiences. In every minority group, there are risk factors that contribute to minority stress. These groups deal with many challenges that make them prone to various medical challenges. Without proper health assistance, there is a high probability that minority groups will face major health problems.
There is a need for urgent medical intervention to prevent more physical and psychological problems. Medical and psychological health practitioners should work together to identify issues linked to minority stress and the effect they have on these groups.
If you’ve been experiencing chronic stress due to discrimination or any other factor, seek medical assistance before it gets worse.