University of Illinois at Chicago

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Exploring the Health and Healthcare Seeking Experiences of Sexual and Gender Minority Migrant Women

posted on 2024-05-01, 00:00 authored by Aeysha Bushra Chaudhry
This dissertation addresses the research gap in sexual and gender minority (SGM) and migration research exploring the health experiences of SGM migrant women in the U.S. The first aim involves a scoping review of 33 articles, revealing a scarcity of studies on sexual minority women (SMW) migrants, with a predominant focus on transgender women migrants. Employing an ecological lens in the analysis, the scoping review pointed to the need for multilevel interventions to address their health. Migration status played a critical role in a migrant’s ability to seek social services, access employment, education and healthcare. Lack of providers practicing cultural humility pushed transgender migrant women to seek out care in unsafe informal care sectors. The second and third aims of this dissertation delve deeper into the experiences of a specific subset of SGM migrant women, Arab SMW migrants. Guided by the minority stress theory and intersectionality, the second aim explores how first-generation Arab SMW migrants experience and navigate their multiple minority identity-related life stressors. Qualitative interviews with 20 Arab SMW migrants unpack themes related to community and interpersonal stressors, coping mechanisms, and the impact of intersectional life stressors on mental health. Community and interpersonal level stressors included, challenges navigating migration-related stressors, rejection, and discrimination from the Arab, queer and mainstream (i.e., non-Arab, non-White) communities, and experiences of invalidation of their intersectional identities. Coping mechanisms included avoidance, identity concealment and seeking social support. Participants reported various mental health impacts, from anxiety, depression to suicidal thoughts. The third aim investigates barriers and facilitators to healthcare utilization among this population, employing Penchansky and Thomas' theory of healthcare access. Emergent themes revealed the crucial role of cultural humility, empathy from healthcare providers, and access to insurance in shaping healthcare-seeking decisions. Difficulties navigating the complexities of the U.S. healthcare system influenced participants' choices to seek healthcare outside the U.S. Across all three aims, findings underscore the urgent need for tailored multilevel interventions, particularly social support groups, to address the physical and mental healthcare needs of SGM migrant women.



Jeni Hebert-Beirne


Public Health Sciences-Community Health Sciences

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Sarah Abboud Yamile Molina Uchechi Mitchell Edward Alessi

Thesis type



  • en

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