Both men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women among the displaced Syrians are particularly vulnerable to the mental health challenges of stigma given their dual minority status both as MSM or transgender women and displaced persons. In addition to fleeing their homes to escape war and political instability, Syrian MSM and transgender women also flee to escape identity-related persecution and violence. However, once in Lebanon, they often face antigay and anti-transgender stigma driven by a conservative legal climate and social attitude.
The study is the first of the kind in Lebanon. The sample included 258 Lebanese-born MSM and transgender women and 230 displaced Syrian MSM and transgender women. The respondents were recruited via respondent-driven sampling.
The study showed that, in support of minority stress theory and aligned with intersectionality theory, displaced Syrian MSM and transgender women experience higher levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD than the Lebanese MSM and transgender women. This result is in part due to identity-related stigmatization and displacement-related stressors. Mental health interventions are needed among displaced Syrian MSM and transgender women, particularly those that comprise tenets of cognitive-behavioral science and modern learning theory including stigma-coping content.