Anticipated to Enacted: Structural Stigma Against Sexual and Gender Minorities Following the 2016 Presidential Election



Structural stigma, or stigma at a society or policy level, has a negative impact on the mental and physical health of sexual and gender minorities (SGMs). In particular, political leaders and the policies they enact can limit the resources and safety of SGM. Following the 2016 presidential election, there was fear of an increase in structural stigma in the USA. However, research on the specifics of anticipated structural stigma is lacking.


Using data from 187 participants who completed an online study conducted from 2016 to 2017, we used inductive thematic coding to examine anticipated structural stigma.


We found four themes: (1) anticipated negative consequences of specific anti-SGM political figures, (2) concerns about the loss of existing SGM rights, (3) fear of new anti-SGM policies, and (4) fears of vulnerability related to limited existing protections.


We discuss how these themes tie into each other, map them onto existing structural stigma work, and use laws and policies that have been passed or proposed in the past 4 years to describe how these anticipated stigmas have become enacted.

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Correspondence to Emma G. Fredrick.

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This study was performed in compliance with ethical standards for research involving human participants as outlined by the Declaration of Helsinki. It was approved by the Institutional Review Board of East Tennessee State University.

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Fredrick, E.G., Mann, A.K., Brooks, B.D. et al. Anticipated to Enacted: Structural Stigma Against Sexual and Gender Minorities Following the 2016 Presidential Election. Sex Res Soc Policy (2021).

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  • Sexual minority
  • Gender minority
  • Structural stigma
  • Anticipated stigma