Everyday Discrimination and Mental Health Among Sexual and Gender Minorities: the Moderating Role of Self-Compassion

Samantha Philippe, Johnson & Wales University - Providence
Samantha Rosenthal, Johnson & Wales University - Providence
Kelsey Gately, Johnson & Wales University - Providence
Allyson Baker, Johnson & Wales University - Providence
Monique Dawes, Johnson & Wales University - Providence
Jennifer Swanberg, Johnson & Wales University - Providence


Objectives: Sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) frequently experience discrimination, often manifesting as poor mental health. Literature suggests self-compassion improves mental health among SGMs. Yet, no research has examined the relationship between everyday discrimination and poor mental health among SGMs, and whether self-compassion moderates the relationship. Methods: Data from 1,292 adult SGMs in the U.S. were recruited from Reddit in 2022. SGM identity was measured to account for intersecting identities comprised of sexual minority assigned male at birth (AMAB), sexual minority assigned female at birth (AFAB), gender minority AMAB, and gender minority AFAB. Additionally, anxiety (GAD-7), depressive symptoms (CES-D10), suicidal ideation, and sociodemographics were measured. Logistic regressions examined relationships between everyday discrimination, self-compassion, an interaction between the two, and all three mental health outcomes, adjusting for SGM identity, race/ethnicity, age, education, and income. Results: In fully adjusted models for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation, with each additional unit of everyday discrimination score, there were increased odds, while with each additional unit of self-compassion score there were decreased odds. There was a significant interaction between everyday discrimination and self-compassion (p<0.01) for depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. These results held true for both SGMs and gender minorities specifically. Conclusions: Among adult SGMs, everyday discrimination was associated with poor mental health. Self-compassion was protective and attenuated this relationship. It is crucial to address discrimination using a multi-level approach to ensure reduction of harm for SGMs across the U.S. Continued research is needed to clarify efficacy of self-compassion interventions for use among SGMs.