Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 488–500 | Cite as

Mapping the Landscape of Support and Safety Among Sexual Minority Women and Gender Non-conforming Individuals: Perceptions After the 2016 US Presidential Election

  • Laurie A. DrabbleEmail author
  • Cindy B. Veldhuis
  • Angie Wootton
  • Ellen D. B. Riggle
  • Tonda L. Hughes


As part of a larger online survey, we conducted an Internet-based study that included both qualitative and quantitative data from a national non-probability sample to examine how sexual minority women and gender non-conforming individuals described their experiences and concerns after the 2016 election. The current study explores responses in relation to local social and political climates. Quantitative analysis of survey responses (N = 969) examined changes in participant concerns relative to state policy context (number of positive policies offering equal rights and protections for LGBTQ communities) and size of community (e.g., urban and rural). Analysis of narrative responses to open-ended questions (n = 605) explored experiences and perceptions of safety and support relative to geographic location. Quantitative analyses showed no difference in levels of concern by size of community of residence and greater concerns among participants in higher equality states compared to those in negative equality states. Qualitative analyses revealed two broad categories of themes: perceptions of safety and support in the state, region or local context (safe havens and hostile locations), and strategies for navigating in the current or changing local social and political landscapes (hunkering down in safe places and with safe people, increasing vigilance and evasion, fleeing unsafe locations, and paving the road to a better future). Findings underscore the broad impact of national elections on perception of safety and civil rights at all levels of the social and political environments.


Sexual minority women Gender non-conforming Transgender Election Social climate Geographic location 



Funding Research reported in this publication was supported in part by San José State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Columbia University School of Nursing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health & Human SciencesSan José State UniversitySan JoseUSA
  2. 2.School of NursingColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Political Science and Gender and Women’s StudiesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  5. 5.School of Nursing & Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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