Experiences of Microaggressions, Attributions, and Impact Among US Young Adults: An Intersectional Perspective Regarding Sexual/Gender and Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities




Discrimination; Disparities; Intersectionality; Mental health; Microaggression; Racial/ethnic minority; Sexual minority


BACKGROUND: Understanding discrimination (e.g., microaggressions) toward sexual/gender minorities (SGM) and racial/ethnic minorities (REM) from an intersectional perspective is critical in informing interventions to reduce such experiences and their impacts. PURPOSE: This study examined US young adults identifying as SGM, REM, both, or neither in relation to microaggression experiences, and these factors in relation to mental health. METHODS: Using 2022 data from 932 US adults (M = 27.61) in an online survey study, we compared subgroups (SGM-only, REM-only, both, neither) in relation to microaggression experiences and mental health symptoms, stratified by sex (male, female). Multivariable linear regression examined: 1) sex and intersectional subgroup in relation to number of microaggressions experienced; and 2) sex, subgroup, and number of microaggression experiences in relation to mental health symptoms. RESULTS: Among females (n = 612), 42.0% were SGM-only, 17.3% REM-only, 15.2% both, and 25.5% neither. Among males (n = 320), 25.0% were SGM-only, 25.0% REM-only, 8.4% both, and 41.6% neither. Females (vs. males) reported more microaggressions (M = 5.67, SD = 3.00 vs. M = 3.95, SD = 3.46, p < .001). Those with intersecting minority identities experienced the most microagressions (females: M = 6.98, SD = 2.64; males: M = 6.44, SD = 2.95, respectively). In multivariable analyses, females and those in any of the 3 minority-identifying subgroups experienced more microaggressions; those with intersecting minority identities experienced more microaggressions than SGM-only and REM-only. Identifying as SGM-only or both SGM and REM, as well as experiencing more microaggressions, was associated with greater mental health symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Intersecting minority identities increase risk for microaggressions and mental health consequences. Multilevel interventions must reduce minority subgroups' experiences of microaggressions and their impacts.


Prevention and Community Health