Liz Holliday

Communications Specialist

First National Survey Published After 2016 Presidential Election Finds Gender Minorities’ Sense of Safety and Well-Being Impacted


NEW YORK- The first quantitative analyses published on the outcome of the 2016 election on the LGBTQ community showed that participants reported high levels of election outcome-related concerns, including psychological and emotional distress, since the election.

“Terrified,” “scared,” and “shell-shocked” were some of the words that LGBTQ survey participants used to describe their reactions to the 2016 presidential election, Cindy B. Veldhuis, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Columbia University School of Nursing and colleagues found.

The study entitled, “We Won’t Go Back into the Closet Now Without One Hell of a Fight: Effects of the 2016 Presidential Election on Sexual Minority Women’s and Gender Minorities’ Stigma-Related Concerns,” was published  in Sexuality Research and Social Policy.

The mixed-methods survey, which collected qualitative and quantitative data from online survey participants across the country who identified as sexual minority women and gender minorities, showed nearly 70 percent of participants reported having “moderately” or “much” higher concerns about their safety since the election, while 73 percent reported higher levels of sadness or depression, and 76 percent, of anxiety.

“What we found suggests the need for prevention and intervention strategies to ensure that marginalized and minority populations have support and effective coping tools to weather potential increases, or perceptions of increases in stigma, and to prevent such perceptions from becoming internalized and increasing risks for engaging in unhealthy behaviors,” Veldhuis said.

Participants were older than age 18, and identified as lesbian, bisexual, queer, same-sex attracted, transgender and/or non-binary. The researchers found participants who identified as queer or as other than lesbian or bisexual reported significantly higher fears for their safety compared to those who identified as lesbian. Those who identified as transgender reported significantly higher fears for their safety than those who identified as female. “My partner and I are more aware of where we should be publicly open about our relationship and where it is not safe,” one participant said of the post-election climate for the LGBTQ community.

“Coping with a stigmatized identity taxes emotional regulation and coping skills, which in turn leads to poor psychological health outcomes, and greater risk of engagement in negative health behaviors,” Veldhuis said.

The paper:(link is external) “We Won’t Go Back into the Closet Now Without One Hell of a Fight: Effects of the 2016 Presidential Election on Sexual Minority Women’s and Gender Minorities’ Stigma-related Concerns.” Other contributors are: Laurie Drabble, San José State University; Ellen D. B. Riggle, University of Kentucky, Angie R. Wootton, University of California San Francisco, Tonda Hughes, Columbia University School of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. The authors declared no conflict of interest associated with this study. 

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