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The Impact of Microaggressions on Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gender Nonconforming Women

Initial Abstract

Microaggressions consist of brief statements or behaviors that send denigrating and psychologically damaging messages to people of color, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, religious minority groups, and disabled persons (Nadal, 2008, 2011). Previous literature research suggests that oppressed groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons are affected by microaggressions and that such experiences have a negative impact on their mental health (Nadal, Issa, et al., 2011; Nadal, Rivera, & Corpus, 2011; Nadal, Wong, et al., 2011). However, there has been little quantitative research to explore the types of microaggressions that LGBT people experience, or how these microaggressions impact their mental health. Furthermore, there is a dearth of research that examines the microaggressions experienced by lesbian, bisexual, and gender nonconforming women, as well as the impact of microaggressions on physical health and functioning.The current project consists of two studies. In the first study, sexual orientation microaggressions will be examined with lesbian and bisexual women (N < 186). A new measure, called the Sexual Orientation Microaggression Scale (SOMS), will be administered alongside the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) – which assesses general well-being, mental health, and distress, and the RAND 36-item Health Survey, which measures physical and functioning, bodily pain, emotional well-being, social functioning, and general health perceptions. In the second study, gender identity microaggressions will be examined with gender nonconforming women. A new measure, the Gender Identity Microaggressions Scale (GIMS), will be created with a sample of gender nonconforming women (N < 268). Utilizing an exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis with two different samples, the measure will be tested for reliability (by measuring Cronbach’s alphas) and validity (by measuring correlations with existing measures of discrimination). The GHQ and RAND-36 will also be administered with these samples to measure the relationship between microaggressions and physical and mental health. Results from this study will be used to describe the unique experiences of lesbian, bisexual, and gender nonconforming women. Implications for the study can be used to advocate for policy changes in institutions and systems, as well as competence training for physicians, psychologists, educators, and other practitioners in working with lesbian, bisexual, and gender nonconforming women patients, clients, and students.

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