Gender Affirmation and Resiliency among Black Transgender Women with and Without HIV Infection

Richard A. Crosby, Laura F. Salazar, Brandon J. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Purpose: Among black transgender women (transwomen) at high risk of HIV acquisition or already living with HIV/AIDS, the study examined whether medical or socially based gender affirming factors may contribute differentially to selected measures of resiliency, perceived stress, and a scale measure of mental health outcomes. This question has implications for clinical care and counseling of this population. Methods: Seventy-seven black transwomen were recruited to participate in a private, face-to-face structured interview. Two index measures of gender affirmation (GA) were constructed from the data. One comprised medical aspects only and the other comprised social aspects of GA. Assessed outcomes were personal competence and acceptance of self and life (resiliency), perceived stress and recent anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation (mental health). Associations between GA variables and outcomes were first assessed using bivariate level correlations. Significant bivariate associations were then tested in multivariable regression models adjusting for age and HIV status. Results: Mean age of the sample was 34.5 years. More than one-half of the sample (62.3%) indicated being HIV-infected. None of the bivariate or multivariable associations pertaining to GA medical factors were significant. Conversely, the social GA factors were significant and protective with all four outcomes. In the presence of age and HIV status, greater social GA was significantly associated with greater personal competence, acceptance of self and life, and positive mental health outcome. HIV status had an independent effect on personal competence, acceptance of self and life, with HIV-positive transwomen scoring higher on both measures. Conclusion: Among black transwomen at high risk of HIV acquisition or already HIV-infected, study findings suggest the possibility that socially based GA may play a prominent role in strengthening the resiliency and mental health of black transwomen. This same protective effect may not occur as a consequence of gender affirming body modification practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalTransgender Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Richard A. Crosby et al. 2016; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.


  • HIV infections
  • black
  • gender affirmation
  • transgender women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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