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Experiences of gender minority stress in cisgender parents of transgender/gender-expansive prepubertal children: A qualitative study

Family Mental Health & Wellbeing Research
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Authors: Hidalgo, M. A., & Chen, D.

Date of publication: 2019

Journal: Health Education & Behavior

Summary: This US study looked at the experiences of 24 parents of gender diverse children aged 4 to 11 years regarding the stressors they reported. The researchers used minority stress theory as a framework to analyse parents’ experiences. Minority stress theory suggests that members of a minority group experience unique stresses due to being ‘different’ to the mainstream culture. This difference can result in stressors such as stigma, prejudice, rejection and discrimination which, in turn, can cause physical and mental health difficulties. The researchers believed that parents may also experience minority stress through the experiences of their children.

They found that parents did experience two kinds of minority stress. Distal stressors were objective and external stressors and included experiences like gender-related discrimination, victimisation, rejection. Parents talked about experiences such as feeling judged by other parents for supporting their child, avoiding social situations when with their child to avoid feeling awkward, being anxious about using public transport with their child if their identification did not match the child’s gender identity, and having friends and relatives end relationships with them. Proximal stressors were internal or individual stressors such as having negative beliefs about gender diverse people and about their child’s future and difficulty managing the balance between when to disclose their child’s gender identity and when to conceal it. The researchers found many negative health impacts for parents including anxiety, guilt, grief, poor sleep and diet, increased substance use, stress and feeling burnt out as a parent.

You can read the study summary only here