Identity Concealment and Centrality: Links to Mental Health in Transgender Adults
Some transgender people engage in identity concealment – an identity management process which may often require continuous, repeated decisions about where, when, and from whom to conceal this identity (Brumbaugh-Johnson & Hull, 2019; Jackson & Mohr, 2016). The existing literature has identified identity concealment as a costly behavior to engage in. Previous studies utilizing the minority stress model as a framework have linked identity concealment across a range of concealable identities to various negative mental health outcomes (Brennan et al., 2020; Hendricks & Testa, 2012; Meyer, 2003; Pachankis et al., 2020; Pellicane & Ciesla, 2022). However, recent work has suggested that identity concealment among transgender individuals may be a process distinct from that of other concealable identities, noting that among some transgender people, identity concealment may be a gender-affirming process. Thus, concealment may therefore potentially promote positive psychological outcomes for some. The current study investigated links between identity concealment to psychological well-being and depression among a sample of U.S.-based binary transgender adults (N = 201). The moderating role of identity centrality, defined in this study as the relative importance of being transgender versus an individual’s binary, felt gender (i.e., being a man or a woman), was also examined. Findings from regression analyses revealed that identity concealment predicts worsened psychological well-being, such that for binary transgender adults who view their binary felt gender as more central to who they are relative to their transgender identity, this form of centrality appears to buffer against lower psychological well-being at higher levels of identity concealment. A more nuanced understanding of transgender individuals’ gender identity conceptualizations and how this may be related to motivations to conceal may help explain and identify the mechanisms behind the relationship between identity concealment and a broad range of mental health and psychosocial outcomes.
Alonso, Daniel James, "Identity Concealment and Centrality: Links to Mental Health in Transgender Adults" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29262078.