Researching for LGBTQ Health

Investigating Trans Persons' Experiences Accessing Mental Health Services

Recent research indicates that rates of depression and suicidality are elevated within transgender/transsexual/transitioned (trans) populations (Grant et al., 2010; Bauer et al, 2013). At the same time, gender minorities report experiencing discrimination from service providers when accessing mental health care. This may lead to the avoidance of necessary psychological support programs.

While mental health disparities have been identified for trans communities, this literature has yet to apply poststructural theory to explain trans-related stigma within mental health settings. Thus, my research seeks to determine the specific phenomena that gender minorities encounter within the psychiatric care system.

To explore this issue, I intend to compare survey data of trans persons' relationships to psychiatric services in Ontario with poststructural analyses of mental health care. Survey data will be juxtaposed with a Foucauldian conceptualization of trans stigma in psychiatry, in order to highlight the complicated interface between gender-variance and the mental health system. In particular, descriptive methods will be compared to Foucauldian analyses to tease out additional knowledge around trans-related discrimination in mental health. Foucault's theory of biopower, which is useful to understand the processes whereby trans bodies are rendered abnormal by dominant psychiatric institutions, will be drawn upon to form a basis against which empirical data can be compared.


  • Kinnon MacKinnon (Primary investigator)
  • Dr. Lori Ross (Supervisor)

Main Contact:

Kinnon MacKinnon (

Funding Source:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Project Outcomes: