The minority stress model describes three processes that LGBTQ2IA people experience:

  1. LGBTQ2 people experience external, stressful events that relate to their sexual and/or gender identity such as stigma or discrimination

  2. Queer people come to expect these events in the future, and begin to scan their environment for signs of rejection. This is commonly referred to as

  3. Through repeated exposure to negative events and social attitudes about LGBTQ2 people, queer people can internalize negative social attitudes, leading to negative attitudes about one’s LGBTQ2 identity. We call this internalized stigma.

  4. To avoid discrimination and because of internalized stigma, LGBTQA2I people may choose to conceal their stigmatized identities, which can lead to further isolation from social supports

Because LGBTQA2I people face these sources of stress, they are at increased likelihood of dealing with mental and physical health issues compared to heterosexual and cisgender people.

Although Canada has some of the most progressive laws and policies in place to support sexual and gender diversity compared to other nations, both overt and subtle displays of discrimination and violence toward LGBTQ2 individuals are still prevalent across the country.

The minority stress model describes how discrimination-related stress impacts LGBTQ2 people’s behaviours and mental health. We also know that certain behaviours (e.g., increased alcohol intake) may lead to health problems. 

The direct impact that discrimination has on LGBTQ2 physical health may be less obvious at first glance. For example, researchers who analyzed data from a US national study found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals reported worse health symptoms (e.g., pain, insomnia, intestinal problems) and more conditions like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, than heterosexual people. These researchers also concluded that LGB person's exposure to discrimination and violence explained, at least partially, the differences between their health and that of heterosexual population.