Gender Minority Stress, Mental Health, and Relationship Quality: A Dyadic Investigation of Transgender Women and Their Cisgender Male Partners

High rates of stigma, discrimination and financial hardship don’t only affect the many transgender women who face these challenges. According to a study in the Journal of Family Psychology, they can affect their cisgender (non-transgender) male partners as well. The findings were not surprising to several advocates who are transgender women living with HIV, and reinforces why policy change is needed to support transgender women, their partners and their families.

The study included 191 couples living or working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly 40% of the men and 19% of the women reported living with HIV.

“For both partners, financial hardship, discrimination, and relationship stigma were associated with an increased odds of depressive distress,” the study found. In addition, financial hardship was associated with lower relationship quality.

“Among transgender women, their own and their partner’s higher relationship stigma scores were associated with lower relationship quality; however, among male partners, only their partner’s greater relationship stigma scores were associated with lower relationship quality.”

In other words, stigma, discrimination and financial hardship experienced by one partner frequently affected physiological well-being and relationship quality for both partners. While the study did not identify differences in these associations among people living with HIV, it noted chronic diseases may increase stress, place strain on relationships, and negatively influence mental health outcomes.

The study noted that psychosocial factors (such as depression, discrimination and financial hardship) have been associated with HIV risk behaviors among transgender women.

Population of focus: Transgender women and their partners

Links to resource:

Date: 2014

Journal: Journal of Family Psychology