Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Paul B. Perrin


Transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals in the United States experience significant marginalization due to stigma enacted at the structural, interpersonal, and individual levels. As a result, this population has reported increased behavioral and physical health needs, as well as unique barriers to healthcare. Moreover, TGNC individuals have reported greater experiences of childhood abuse compared to cisgender individuals. The cumulative experiences of stigma-related stressors and adverse childhood experiences put this population at risk for the development of mental and physical health problems, increasing need for health services. However, TGNC individuals have reported being denied medical care and postponing seeking care due to fear of discrimination, which may increase complications and severity of illness, and result in increased hospitalizations and healthcare costs.

Utilizing the Andersen Behavioral Model of Health Services Use and Theory of Planned Behavior, the current study examined robust associations among stigma-related stressors, adverse childhood experiences, personal and physician-related enabling factors, mental, behavioral, and physical health needs, and healthcare utilization, intention, and delay among an online convenience sample of 109 TGNC adults in the United States. A series of multivariate and mediational analyses were conducted to determine the connections among predisposing factors, enabling resources, needs, health beliefs, and healthcare intention, delay, and behavior.

Although predisposing factors were not directly associated with healthcare behavior, they were directly associated with healthcare delay. Moreover, mediation analyses indicated an indirect effect of victimization and adverse childhood events to decreased healthcare utilization and increased delay through mental health needs, internalized stigma, negative personal beliefs, perceived TGNC-inclusivity of healthcare providers, and finally, behavioral intention. Thus, the present study illuminated a possible cascade of detrimental effects that are initiated by stigma-related stress and adverse childhood experiences through enabling resources, needs, and beliefs, that ultimately are associated with healthcare utilization intent, behavior, and delay. These findings highlight the need to address both TGNC individuals’ timely use of care, and the quality of care they receive. It is imperative that future research takes a multi-level approach by creating and testing evidence-based interventions to improve both healthcare providers’ competency, as well as for TGNC individuals’ ability to coping with stressors.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission