Intimate Partner Violence and Depression among Black Transgender Women in the USA: The Potential Suppressive Effect of Perceived Social Support


Depression among Black transgender women (BTW) in the USA is an often understudied mental health concern with far-reaching consequences for overall physical and mental health at both the individual and community levels. Intimate partner violence (IPV) among BTW is also a frequently understudied and important social determinant of health in need of further exploration. This study sought to address the gap in research on the relationship between IPV and depression among BTW using a time- and location-based community sample of BTW from six US cities. In addition, it sought to explore the potential protective or suppressive effect of perceived social support on this relationship. Generalized structural equation models were used to assess conditional direct and indirect effects of IPV on depression via the suppression effect of perceived social support. Evidence was found of a statistically significant conditional direct effect of IPV on depression as well as a statistically significant suppression effect for perceived social support. Specifically, there was a 20% lower likelihood of increased depressive symptomatology for every 1-unit increase in perceived social support reported by participants. These findings indicated that perceived social support may be an important intervention point for helping to improve the mental health and well-being of BTW.

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We thank the Center for Black Equity and local Black Pride organizations for partnering with us to implement POWER, the community-based organization who performed onsite HIV testing on the study’s behalf, the thousands of study participants who volunteered their time to contribute to this research, and members of the POWER Study Team who made data collection possible.

The local Black Pride organizations are as follows: D.C. Black Pride, Detroit’s Hotter than July, Houston Splash, In the Life Atlanta, Memphis Black Pride, and Philadelphia Black Pride.

The community-based organizations who performed onsite HIV testing are as follows: Atlanta: AID Atlanta, AIDS Health Care Foundation, NAESM; Detroit: Community Health Awareness Group, Horizons Project, Unified; Houston: Avenue 360, Houston AIDS Foundation, Positive Efforts; Memphis: Friends for Life; Philadelphia: Access Matters, Philadelphia FIGHT; Washington, DC: Us Helping Us.

The members of POWER study team are as follows: Center for Black Equity: Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr., Michael S. Hinson, Jr.; Columbia University: Patrick A. Wilson; University of Connecticut: Lisa A. Eaton; Rutgers University: Henry Fisher-Raymond; University of Pittsburgh: Leigh A. Bukowski, Cristian J. Chandler, Derrick D. Matthews, Steven P. Meanley, Jordan M. Sang, and Ronald D. Stall.

This study was partially supported by the National Institute for Nursing Research (R01NR013865) and by the National Institute for Mental Health (5T32MH094174–08).


This original, unpublished manuscript has not been submitted for review to any other journal, and has been read and approved by all co-authors.

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Correspondence to Leigh A. Bukowski.

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All study procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board at [University of Pittsburgh].

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Leigh A. Bukowski and Melvin C. Hampton are co-first authors

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Bukowski, L.A., Hampton, M., Escobar-Viera, C. et al. Intimate Partner Violence and Depression among Black Transgender Women in the USA: The Potential Suppressive Effect of Perceived Social Support. J Urban Health 96, 760–771 (2019).

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  • Depression
  • Black
  • “African American” transgender
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Social support