Modifying the Minority Strengths Model for Binary Trans and Nonbinary Individuals: An Examination of the Relationships among Strength-Promoting Factors, Mental Health, and Health-Promoting Behaviours
Gender Diverse , Trangender , Nonbinary , Mental Health , Social Support , Community Connectivity , Identity Pride
Trans is an umbrella term used to describe people with sex/gender identities and expressions that do not align with their sex/gender assigned at birth (American Psychological Association, 2015). Historically, very little mental health scholarship has focused on trans individuals. Instead, models (e.g., Minority Stress Model; Meyer, 1995) have examined vulnerability to mental and physical health problems among LGBTQ+ individuals more broadly. Such work has served to conflate sexual and gender identity and reinforce a deficit-based approach in research with minority individuals, largely ignoring strength promoting factors. Furthermore, trans folks are often subsumed into a single group, which fails to acknowledge the variability in experiences and strengths that exist among people with different gender identities (Kichler, 2021; Tatum et al., 2020). Using a sample of binary trans (N = 196) and nonbinary (N = 232) participants, I adapted and tested a series of models based on the newly developed Minority Strengths Model (MSM; Perrin et al., 2020) to examine how strength-promoting factors uniquely operate among both groups. Prior to analyses, the factor structure of all variables was explored, and invariance testing was conducted to determine whether direct comparisons between groups could be made. Findings were threefold: first, confirmatory factor analyses highlighted a two-factor structure for social support and identity pride contrary to initial assumptions. Second, significant differences in community connectedness, internal and external identity pride, anxiety, and health promoting behaviours emerged for binary trans and nonbinary participants, with all factors except for health promoting behaviours emerging as significantly higher for nonbinary individuals, contrary to initial hypotheses. Lastly, in direct opposition to the Minority Strength Model, the relationships among strength-promoting factors were best explained via direct relationships only, with results showing no indirect effects. Such findings promote the need to uniquely explore people with different gender identities and to use a strength-promotion model to examine factors that promote adaptive outcomes, rather than highlight deficits. Findings from the current study could provide the foundation upon which to build future studies to explore individual and collective strengths for people with diverse gender identities.