Trump presidency was mental torture for LBGT+ Americans, study suggests

By Gino Spocchia
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The rising number of LGBT+ Americans with signs of mental distress could be attributed to Donald Trump’s time in the White House, according to two reports.

Both the Trump administration’s reputation on LGBT+ rights and actions towards LGBT+ Americans from 2016 to 2020 created stress for the community, NBC News reported on Tuesday.

A report for the December issue of the journal Economics and Human Biology found that “extreme mental distress” – or 30 days or more of distress – rose by four per cent from 2015 to Mr Trump’s final year as US president.

The distance between LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ Americans also enlarged in that time frame, going from 1.8 per cent 2014, to 6.9 per cent in 2020.

Masanori Kuroki, an associate economic professor at Arkansas Tech University who wrote the report, explained that small increases in “extreme mental distress” were important to look at because they are uncommon among the wider US population.

Mr Kuroki noted: “The findings do suggest that the Biden administration may have inherited higher rates of mental distress among LGBT+ people” than it would “if Trump had not run and won the 2016 election.”

A second study by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers highlighted a similar increase in LGBT+ Americans reporting frequent mental distress to the national behavioural risk factor survey.

That study, a national telephone health survey, reported LGBT+ mental distress rising from 15.4 per cent to 21.5 per cent from 2015 to 2018. Its findings were published this year in the journal LGBT Health.

Adrienne Grzenda, an assistant professor at UCLA, told NBC News that there was “a clear association” with Mr Trump’s election in 2016 “and the changeover to a decisively anti-LGBT+ administration and the worsening mental health of SGM adults”.

As with Mr Kuroki, he admitted that his findings were a “casual connection” and he could not say for certain if there was a connection between Mr Trump and rising distress among LGBT+ Americans.

Mr Grzenda went on to say that transgender Americans suffered more than other LGBT+ Americans, because the Trump administration removed protections for transgender people to serve in the US military, among other changes to healthcare access.

Mr Kuroki added:“If presidents affect LGBT+ people’s mental health, then we should expect that the extreme mental distress gap between LGBT+ people and non-LGBT people to narrow under the Biden presidency.”

US President Joe Biden has rolled back many of the anti-transgender and anti-LGBT+ laws introduced by his predecessor, as Republicans continue to attack minority groups.

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