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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Minority stress: what is it?

Minority tensions are a problem for LGBTQ+ people. Now where does this tension come from? How does it appear? What are the consequences of this?

For many years, LGBTQ+ people have had to overcome barriers posed by a society that is insensitive to their realities. Therefore, some authors suggest that this population faces challenges not experienced by other segments of society. Thus, Ilan Meyer proposed a model to study this problem and called it “minority stress”.

The minority stress model states that as a group they are vulnerable to increased stress because of their minority status. Through this theory, it will be possible to more accurately assess the stressors they experience and their effects. Therefore, it is a useful resource in psychology, as it allows us to better understand the needs of this population.

What is minority tension?

Stress is an emotion that appears in situations that are perceived as a threat or a challenge. To some extent, this is an adaptive process as it gives the organism an additional “push” to meet the demands. However, it becomes a problem when people experience it for a long time.

In this way, all people are prone to chronic stress for different reasons. However, the LGBTQ+ population is at greater risk of suffering from stress due to the conditions that are associated with their condition. For example, for transgender people, in many countries, having their gender identity legally recognized is a problem. Also, it creates difficulties in access to work, health, education etc.

Therefore, it is possible to say that LGBTQ+ people face challenges inherent in their gender identity or sexual orientation. These stressful situations are those that Ilan Meyer has incorporated into his model of minority tension.

How is minority tension viewed?

Until now, it has not been possible to define what are the specific stressors experienced by the LGBTQ+ population. However, Meyer brings together a series of common senses that are found in his experiences.

1. Past Experiences of Discrimination

As mentioned in the beginning, the social environment of LGBTQ+ people tends to be insensitive to their own experiences and needs. Therefore, it is common for them to be victims of discrimination, both in their family and in school or work. These types of experiences lead to sadness and feelings such as guilt or shame that impair mental health.

Following this line, Barrientos et al. (2019) published a study on the effects of sexual bias on Chilean transgender people. In conclusion, consequences such as anxious and depressive symptoms, substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and attempts are indicated.

2. Expectation of Rejection

Another important factor in the minority stress model is the rejection expectations of the LGBTQ+ population.

Because of past experiences of discrimination, these people develop rejection anxiety. Then, they see the continuing threat of discrimination in their environment and they see the future in a bleak way.

3. Hiding Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Continuing the above, it has also been observed that LGBTQ+ people tend to hide their gender identity or sexual orientation. This is to be expected if we take into account that they are often rejected for the same reason. Moreover, they live with the expectation that their environment will discriminate against them in some way or the other.

As a result, they hide who they are, in order to avoid the stress and anguish resulting from the experience of rejection. This behavior is reinforced because they gain some social advantage by hiding. However, at the same time, it creates suffering because they must suppress their true desires, dreams and goals.

4. Inner Hate

Minority tension is also expressed through contempt for one’s own person. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people internalize society’s disapproval. Therefore, they feel hatred for their desires and personality traits. This can lead them to make decisions such as undergoing “conversion therapy” in order to repress who they are.

It should be noted that there is no scientific evidence that confirms that it is possible to change or “cure” sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, this type of “treatment” can make existing mental health problems worse. In addition, many of these conversion centers are run by religious organizations that are not licensed to perform psychotherapy.

5. Combat

LGBTQ+ people have a particular difficulty when it comes to facing reality. On the one hand, if they openly accept who they are, they may be subject to discrimination and violence. But, covertly, they continue to fall prey to social prejudices. In this way, it can be said that both suffer if they face the situation and if they avoid it.

As a result, the LGBTQ+ population is seeing increasing uncertainty about their future. Maybe they’re wondering: Will things ever change? Should I accept who I am and risk suffering? Or do I hide and suppress what I feel?

Effects of Minority Stress

Now, we already know that stress is an emotion that can affect long-term mental and physical health. Therefore, it is logical to assume that, due to minority stress, the LGBTQ+ population suffers from more health problems.

Mongelli et al. (2019) published a systematic review on minority stress and mental health in this population. In their findings, they highlight that evidence indicates that these groups have higher rates of psychological changes.

Other research by Flentje et al. (2019) studied the relationship of minority stress with biological conditions. Evidence was found to suggest a possible link between these variables, although the authors point out that more research is needed in this regard.

In conclusion, Ilan Meyer’s model provides a window for us to better understand the difficulties of the LGBTQ+ population. Therefore, it is a useful resource for mental health professionals dealing with these types of cases. Also, the model of minority stress serves to further educate the population about the experiences of minorities.

Source: The Mind is Wonderful

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