How Transgender Identity May Compound Eating Disorder Symptoms

  Body Image, Co-occurring Disorders, Blog

Contrary to popular perception, eating disorders are not fundamentally about food, or even about weight. They have more to do with distorted self-image. This is something that can often be compounded for those in the LGBT community, and for transgender individuals in particular.

A lot of this pertains to lingering social stigma concerning transgender identity. For example, those in the LGBT community may have deep fears about coming out—fears that they will not be accepted by their friends and loved ones. This can play into their self-image and compound issues with eating.

Additionally, it is hardly uncommon for those with non-conforming gender identities to internalize negative messages about themselves—to feel like they are being judged not just by society but by their own bodies. This body negativity can, again, fuel the emotions that lead to eating disorders.

There are other, even more grisly and serious ways in which a transgender identity can fuel an eating disorder. For example, there remain many instances of violence and bullying against those in the transgender community—a truly tragic reality that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. This and other psychological conditions can sometimes result in problems with body image and with eating.

And more generally, body image is a huge issue for many transgender individuals—people who deal with long-time dissatisfaction with their own physicality. Negative Body image, of course, is a key component in eating disorders.

Despite all of this, there is a dreadful lack of eating disorder education within the transgender community. It is vital to help members of this community understand what eating disorders really are and how they can be dealt with—something Alsana has been doing for a long time now.

And we will continue to. Transgender identity can complicate and exacerbate eating disorder symptoms, but there is always hope, and always the possibility of effective treatment.

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