The Use of Social Media in Identity Development for LGBTQI+ Individuals and the Factors That Shape Young People’s Attitudes Towards the Transgender Population

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Kirsty Russell
Submitted: June 2021


Despite the legislative progress and increased visibility of LGBTQI+ individuals in society, research continues to highlight the prejudice and victimisation that this population can face. According to the minority stress model, sexual minorities can face hostile stigma-related stressors which can compromise the mental health of LGBTQI+ individuals. Additionally, LGBTQI+ individuals face a distinct path of navigating identity development compared to nonLGBTQI+ peers. Chapter one begins by outlining the context, rationale, and scope for this research. As identity development takes place in a contemporary world of widespread social media use, chapter two presents the systematic literature review conducted to answer ‘how do LGBTQI+ individuals use social media as part of their identity development?’ The review included 16 studies and adopted a thematic synthesis methodology. LGBTQI+ individuals used social media for: gaining a sense of belonging, developing my identity, managing my identity, and broadcasting my identity. Furthermore, understanding the mechanisms which underly transprejudice has implications for the outcomes and mental health of transgender individuals. Consequently, chapter three presents the findings from an online survey with 129 young people, to investigate the factors which predict young people’s attitudes towards transgender individuals. A multiple regression analysis revealed that several previously identified factors from the adult literature formed a comprehensive model in explaining a large amount of variance in young people’s attitudes. The importance of discomfort felt with violations of heteronormativity, hostile sexism, and gender were emphasised. Implications to inform support across different ecological and contextual systems and scope for further research is discussed.

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