Eating Disorder Treatment Often Excludes Transgender People

Trans people are much more likely to experience eating disorders, but current care systems overlook their unique needs and often do more harm. These advocates are working to change that.

Bee, a transgender, genderqueer person living in Portland, Oregon, once worked as a therapist serving trans, nonbinary, and intersex clients with eating disorders (EDs).
Now, they’re back in recovery from their own ED.
Bee, 36, was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at 14 and entered recovery for the first time as a teen. They identified as recovered by their 20s, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, they said, they experienced “a full-blown relapse.”
Bee said their trans identity influences their ED, as it does for many people. Yet, they said that frontline ED treatment modalities often exclude, erase, or even harm trans folks in recovery.
Experts and advocates say that Bee is far from alone in feeling that way.

Trans people are more likely to experience eating disorders
Bee said their relationships with their body and food began to shift when puberty started.
“While I wasn’t necessarily cognizant of it at the time, looking back at it, there was definitely a lot of gender stuff at play,” they told Healthline. “I was just trying to take up as little space as possible.”
They said their gender dysphoria — extreme physical and emotional discomfort caused by perceiving your body as incongruent with your gender — continues to contribute to their ED.
Research suggests that trans people are much more likely to develop EDs and engage in disordered eating than cisgender people, and dysphoria likely plays a role (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source34).
A study including more than 289,000 college students, 479 of whom were transgender, found that rates of ED diagnoses and disordered eating behaviors were much higher among trans students (3).
More than 15% of the trans people surveyed reported ED diagnoses, compared with 0.55% of the cisgender, heterosexual men and 1.85% of the cisgender, heterosexual women (3).


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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