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  • Alexandra Gold

Understanding The Minority Stress Theory

Understanding The Minority Stress Theory: Stressors of Stigma

The minority stress theory proposes that members of minority groups face higher stress levels above the normal stress of stigma. People who are part of a stigmatized minority group—whether that be based on gender, sexuality, or race—face unique, chronic, and socially-based pressures. 

Part of these high-stress levels is the clash in values between a stigmatized social group and the larger society; part is anticipated stigma, expecting to be treated poorly, unfairly, and even violently; and part is the work of concealment and managing information to maintain the closet—in circumstances when the stigmatized characteristic is not obvious on the first appearance. Such stressors contribute to poorer health outcomes and the potential for increased mental health and self-esteem issues. Heightened stress responses in the body can lead to immune problems, metabolic problems, and contribute to substance use problems.

The effects of gender, income, racial, cultural, and sexual inequality are often forefront in kink communities, as the kink community offers a refuge for many drawn by its culture of inclusion. Thus, to understand the special health concerns for kinky patients, we must also understand the concerns for Queer, Trans, and BIPOC individuals who face additional anxieties.

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