Sexual and gender minority identity exploration, tabletop role playing games, and clinical implications
Research has demonstrated a host of health disparities for sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals attributable to the negative effects of societal prejudice, discrimination, and internalized homophobia and transphobia (Meyer, 2003). The effects of the pandemic have hit sexual and gender minority individuals and their communities particularly hard, with a host of environmental burdens leading to increases in stress related to minority status (Anderson & Knee, 2021; Drabble & Eliason, 2021; Gato et al., 2021; Moore et al., 2021). These environmental stressors are ever present, but some SGM individuals may seek containers in which environmental stressors can be safely processed and overcome (Caputo, 2017). One container for this processing and relief is that which is created through participation in tabletop role playing games (TTRPGs). Though research is beginning to highlight the growing proclivity for TTRPGs among SGM individuals as a means of finding community (Garcia, 2019; Sihvonen & Stenros, 2019), more work is needed to identify how SGM players create environments that reduce the impact of SGM-related stressors and develop strategies to facilitate connectedness. A snapshot of player interactions and collaborative narrative building in a TTRPG game is provided, with a breakdown of how TTRPGs are structured. An exploration of the therapeutic application of TTRPGs will be discussed for SGM individuals next, as well as clinical considerations for professionals interested in use of TTRPGs as a therapeutic tool for this population.