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Gender matters in LGBQ discrimination experiences

How does someone’s gender expression impact the discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) people face? Is racial identity a factor as well.

A recent study[1] asked a racially diverse national sample of cisgender (cis) and transgender (trans) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer (LGBQ) people to share stories of their discriminatory experiences to find out. Here are SGL’s critical takeaways:

● Looking like a “traditional” man or woman is protective against discrimination, but sometimes:

o when people assume LGBQ people are straight, they make offensive comments in front of them

o LGBQ people can feel isolated from their own communities because other LGBQ people assume they were straight

● Not looking traditionally masculine or feminine sparks anti-LGBQ discrimination

● LGBQ people of color may be perceived as even more gender nonconforming due to racialized gender stereotypes (i.e. stereotypes of Asian men as effeminate)

● Being “othered” as a racial minority can make anti-LGBQ discrimination experiences even more scary and difficult to navigate sometimes for POC

Critical Takeaway: Gender expression is key to how others perceive and react to LGBQ people. Race can help conceal sexual identity for some, and exacerbate discrimination for others (particularly racial minorities based on stereotypes).

[1] Anderson, S. M. (2020). Gender Matters: The Perceived Role of Gender Expression in Discrimination Against Cisgender and Transgender LGBQ Individuals. Psychology of Women Quarterly, doi: 0361684320929354.

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