POSTER 21 - PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS EXPERIENCE AMONG TRANSGENDER MEN: GENDER AFFIRMATION AND SOCIAL-IDENTITY MANAGEMENT EARLY IN TRANSITION
February 02, 20172:30 PM-February 02, 20173:30 PM
AmbyrHardy, MA ;
L.Zachary DuBois, PhD
Experiences of stigma and stress associated with minority status can negatively affect health among transgender men. Transgender men remain an under-researched group, and excess minority-stressors they endure are not yet well understood. For those who pursue transition, testosterone therapy and/or surgeries help to better align their bodies with their gender identities, facilitate individuals’ ability to have their genders affirmed socially, and improve overall mental-health and well-being. However, transgender men may experience social stigma due to normative binary sex-gender expectations particularly during the process of transition. This process may include social transition - requesting others use a male pronoun and/or name as well as physical transition - which involve changes in secondary-sex characteristics that socially cue gender, both which can make trans men more vulnerable to gender-related stigma, victimization, and violence. Nonetheless, transgender men’s experiences of these types of minority-stressors are likely to be varied as they are influenced by a number of individual and circumstantial factors. The ability to characterize stress experience during the early years of transition, when social identity and gender presentation are most in flux, will allow us to highlight minority-stress effects on well-being and health and enablebetter advocacy and support during the transition process.
Materials and Methods: Sixty-five transgender men (18-53 yrs.) completed in-person interviews as part of the Transitioning Experience Study, for which interview, survey, and biomarker data were collected (2010-2011) in order to better understand the minority-stressors transgender men face during transition and how they influence health. All participants were using testosterone as part of their transition. A subset of interviews (n=8) were selected based on participants’ early-transition status (≤ 2 years on T). Qualitative coding and thematic analyses were then used to characterize and contextualize 2 transition-related stressors that had been previously identified in quantitative analysis in association with biomarkers of stress: "Coming-Out Stress" and struggles with gendered social interactions ("Transitioning Identity Stress.") Results: Analyses revealed two prominent factors which influenced transgender men’s experiences with these stressors: (1) the duration of their relationships (i.e., whether a social relationship precedes transition or not) and (2) the degree of gender affirmation they experience (e.g., whether others consistently try or refuse to use the appropriate name and male pronouns). Conclusion: These findings contribute to our understanding of psychosocial stressors and challenges faced by transgender men during their transition, and ways that those challenges are exacerbated or buffered by the behavior of the people around them. This can facilitate the development of support during and awareness about the transitioning experience. Category: Social Science