Mental health of Latinx, Hispanic, and Black LGBQ population’s worsen since 2016

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Trump’s hostility toward LGBQ’s during 2016 election is still alarming to many

The hostile socio-political climate against Latinx, Hispanic, and Black LGBQ people during the 2016 presidential election worsened the community’s mental health, according to a new study. The study finds mental health declined 17 months after the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump, while maintaining stability in the seven months before the election.

Younger respondents, bisexuals, those with lower incomes were particularly affected by poor mental health

The study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that Black and African American (43.73%), Hispanic and Latinx (56.27%) LGBQ people have reported more poor mental health including increased psychological distress, suicidal thinking, and decreased social well-being after the election, said the press release.

Researchers used data used from the Generations Study, the first long-term, five-year study to examine the health and well-being across three generations of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGB) in the United States. From three age groups, young (18-25), middle (34-41), and older (52-59), results showed that younger respondents, bisexuals, those with lower incomes and less education were particularly affected by poor mental health.

“Amid a generally improving sociopolitical environment, the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States on November 8, 2016 marked a turning point for SM people,” states the study’s introduction. “SM” is an abbreviation for sexual minority which includes (and is not excluded to) lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and same-gender loving people).

However, the study says it is important to note BIPOC sexual minorities have not experienced the same sociopolitical gains as white sexual minorities causing an additional lag in research of BIPOC communities.

“A hostile environment increases minority stress,” said study co-author Ilan H. Meyer, Principal Investigator of the Generations study and Distinguished Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute in the press release. “LGBQ people of color were targeted by the former administration both due to their sexual identity and race/ethnicity, likely impacting their mental health,” she said.

For example, in 2017 the Trump administration sought to reverse civil rights advancements for LGBQ groups. In this advancement, the Justice Department declared that federal civil rights protections do not apply to sexual orientation which was accompanied by increased public expressions of discrimination and violence, shares the study. This decision was overturned in 2020 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Civil Rights Laws protect gay and transgender workers.

The study’s findings concluded that compared to lesbian and gay respondents, bisexuals reported poor mental health days in the past month and greater psychological distress. However, respondents with higher incomes reported less psychological distress and greater social well-being than those with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level. Compared with respondents with a high school education or less, those with a college education had fewer poor mental health days per month, less psychological distress and greater social well-being. Older respondents reported fewer poor mental health days per month, less psychological distress, and lower odds of past-year suicidal ideation than younger adults.

“Additional research is needed to assess whether these changes in mental health will persist over time or improve with (a) more supportive administrations,” said lead author of the study, Evan A. Krueger, Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Southern California in the press release. “Public health professionals should consider the effects of sociopolitical changes on a population’s mental health,” he said.

Although this study is cumulative of cisgender LGBQ populations, it does not mention how the 2016 presidential election affected the mental health of Black, Brown, Latinx and Hispanic transgender and gender nonconforming populations. However, more information can be found on U.S. transgender populations in the Transpop Study, a U.S. transgender population health survey conducted by researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, Columbia University, Harvard University, and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health.

Lana Leonard (they/them) is a graduate from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. They work at the GLAAD Media institute and freelance for publications like LGBTQ Nation while working on their journalistic theory of change project: Late Nights with Lana, a talk show based out of 10PRL film studios in Long Branch, NJ. Lana's mission, in all their work, is to focus on people, their collective truths and how those truths form a community of knowledge towards change.