Discrimination and Suicidal Ideation Among Transgender Veterans: The Role of Social Support and Connection

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PURPOSE: The aim was to examine social support and community connection as moderators of the relationship between discrimination and suicidal ideation (SI) in transgender veterans. METHODS: A national convenience sample of 298 transgender veterans completed an online cross-sectional survey from February to May 2014. Hierarchical regressions using nonparametric bootstrapping assessed associations among gender-related discrimination within the past year, two aspects of social support (social support, social connection) from four sources (family, friends, transgender/LGBT friends, and veterans), and SI in the past 2 weeks. RESULTS: Discrimination was positively associated with SI. Social support from transgender friends and social connection with LGBT and veteran communities moderated the relationship between discrimination and SI. At high and average levels of social support and connection, discrimination was associated with greater SI, whereas at low levels of these variables, SI was consistently elevated and unrelated to discrimination. CONCLUSION: Given that SI was consistently elevated when discrimination was high, these findings emphasize the need for additional research on how to mitigate the detrimental effects of discrimination, with consideration given to interventions targeting discrimination or responses to discrimination. In addition, given that high and average transgender social support and LGBT social connection were associated with reduced SI when discrimination was low, research would benefit from continued exploration of the potential protective elements of social support from a shared stigmatized community.

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LGBT health

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