Faculty Articles

Title

Identity Concealment: An Invisible Barrier to Health Among Sexual and Gender Minority Older Adults

Document Type

Newsletter

Publication Date

Summer 2020

Publication Title

Perspectives on Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity

Volume

7

Issue/Number

1

Abstract/Excerpt

Excerpt

Sexual and gender minority (SGM) older adults experience an array of mental and physical health disparities in comparison to their straight, cisgender counterparts. Common dis- parities include higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, alcohol and tobacco use, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes (Choi & Meyer, 2016). Departing from minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003), the elevated risk for health conditions experienced by SGM older adults can be partially explained by the chronic stressors created and sustained by the gender-rigid, heterosexist and ageist values that permeate society, ranging from everyday discrimination and microaggressions to expectations of rejection and internalized stigma. One minority stressor that may be particularly damaging to SGM older adults is identity concealment, defined as “the use of strategies such as lying and social isolation to avoid identity detection” (Camacho et al., 2020, p. 29).

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