It is common for individuals who identify with different minority groups in our society to encounter stressful experiences related to discrimination and micro- or macroaggressions. These stressful experiences can lead to feelings of understandable stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration. It can help to understand some common terms used when discussing this type of stress experienced by members of minority groups, and some ways of coping with it.
What Is A Marginalized Identity?
A marginalized identity is an identity for which you are treated as lesser than or inferior by others. Along with having a marginalized identity, people in these groups can experience forms of discrimination and violence such as the “isms” (e.g., racism, sexism) and forms of antagonism (e.g., transantagonism, homoantagonism). So for example, individuals of different racial groups can be marginalized for their racial identities because of racism. Furthermore, people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. can be marginalized for their sexual orientations because of homoantagonism.
What Is Minority Stress?
Ilan Meyer, a clinical professor in public health, defined minority stress as stress that occurs due to experiences of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against those who hold marginalized identities. Many of us who experience depression and anxiety can experience these states because of minority stress. So when you are feeling anxious about talking to your boss at work after they said something racist, that is minority stress. Another example would be when you are feeling depressed about oppression that is happening around you.
What Is Intersectional Minority Stress?
Intersectional Minority Stress occurs when someone experiences minority stress across multiple marginalized identities. For example, individuals who identify as both Latinx and female can experience stigma and stress related to both of these identities.
How to Manage Minority and Intersectional Stress
So, given all of this information, here are some ideas that can help you manage minority and intersectional stress:
- Read personal narratives about intersectional stress for insight and guidance on how to navigate these stressors (“Freedom Is A Constant Struggle” by Angela Davis, “Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women And Feminism” by Bell Hooks) (See a more extensive list at https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/intersectionality)
- Check out podcasts on intersectional stress for empowerment and insight. Open this link for some recommendations!
- Seek out counselors who are knowledgeable about intersectional minority stress. In minority stress therapy, counselors can work with you on finding empowerment and hope, building resilience, developing ideas to foster social change, and providing you with affirmation and validation regarding your stressors.
Working through minority and intersectional stress can help you start to more thoroughly enjoy your life. If you are dealing with intersectional minority stress and you’re unsure how to handle it, feel free to contact me, Frank Gorritz, APC, NCC, at 404-793-3930. Together, we can work on ways to overcome your stressors.