LGBTQ people's disclosure and support seeking on social media when experiencing pregnancy loss
I am interested in collaborating with folks including but not limited to Public Health, Medicine, Women Studies, Social Work, Communication, Computer Science, Information Science, and anyone who has expertise and interest in some aspect of this project (e.g., LGBTQ, reproductive health, intersectionality).
Social media platforms provide novel contexts for sharing information, self-disclosure, and support exchange, especially when people experience stigma or distress. I have found that social support exchange and stigma reduction are both motivations and perceived outcomes of these disclosures when they do occur, both of which have implications for wellbeing. Decisions that lead to such disclosures or non-disclosures are multi-faceted and complex. Past research, including mine, has explored self-disclosure of stigmatized experiences by focusing on one stigmatized context. However, sometimes people possess several intersecting stigmatized identity facets and may face amplified or different challenges as a result. Intersectionality poses both a conceptual and a practical challenge for disclosure. How stigma intersections influence support seeking and self-disclosure on social media, what outcomes these decisions and associated behaviors have, and what technological affordances inform these decisions is important to examine. This is what I propose to investigate here.
As parents or parents-to-be, LGBTQ people face stigma against their gender and/or sexual identities in both their own and their children’s lives in ways that heterosexual cisgender individuals do not. This experienced stigma becomes more complicated when they experience pregnancy loss. Pregnancy loss is a stigmatized reproductive health complication, associated with negative well being effects, shame, guilt, and generally not perceived as a type of loss that deserves to be grieved. My past work related to disclosure and support seeking on social media after pregnancy loss has largely included cisgender heterosexual individuals, where I was able to only learn from one lesbian woman. LGBTQ people who experience pregnancy loss face additional challenges due to this intersection. I want to expand prior work by uncovering how multiple intersecting stigmatized identities (e.g., LGBTQ, pregnancy loss) inform disclosure and support seeking decisions and outcomes on social media. This project includes interviewing LGBTQ people who have experienced pregnancy loss. We can also expand with other methods.
This work’s ultimate goal is understanding how social technologies can be designed in ways sensitive to and inclusive of individuals who face even more barriers to support and disclosure but who may benefit from doing so: individuals who live at the intersection of multiple stigmas. Creating such online spaces that help reduce self or public stigma also has broader impacts in that it has the potential to lead to social change and influence public wellbeing over time.