As part of ISGMH’s Current Issues in LGBTQ Health lecture series, research assistant professor Dr. Christina Dyar presented research findings on health disparities affecting sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB). Dr. Dyar’s lecture was hosted by Northwestern Medicine.
Dr. Dyar shared that, based on data collected from the FAB400 study, SGM-AFAB people experience disproportionately high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts when compared to the general population. They’re also at a higher risk of substance use and substance use problems, such as illicit drug use and heavy drinking.
Dr. Dyar explained that mental health disparities experienced by SGM-AFAB are strongly linked to chronic minority stress, which arises from living in a society that stigmatizes and discriminates against SGM identities. Dr. Dyar pointed out that less evidence exists of a link between minority stress and substance use, and suggested this as an area needing more research.
Generally, involvement in a romantic relationship has been established as a protective factor against stress and substance use. According to Dr. Dyar, this is true for young AFAB-SGM populations except for bisexual youth, who report increased use of marijuana and illicit drugs when romantically involved.
Dr. Dyar shared that bisexual-AFABs are at even more increased risk of health disparities due to unique stressors. For example, bisexual women are up to 9 times more likely to experience sexual assault than lesbian and straight women.
Dr. Dyar concluded her lecture by emphasizing the need to prioritize research on the roots of health disparities experienced by SGM-AFAB in order to develop effective public health interventions against them.