LGBTQ Community | Alsana

LGBTQ and Eating Disorders

At Alsana, we believe LGBTQ-track programs are less effective at helping clients achieve total healing. That’s why each of our 13 programs is wholly inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations. Here, clients who identify as LGBTQ are never segregated. Instead, each person is welcomed and embraced as an integral member of the greater community.

Alsana offers a weekly “Gender, Sexuality, and Identity” group for our clients to support the affirming environment we’re cultivating.

The need is urgent.

Statistics show that eating disorders are much more common in the LGBTQ community than in the general population. Data from two recent surveys illustrate this alarming problem and point to an urgent need in the young LGBTQ community.

Respondents age 13-24 years old who identified as LGBTQ were diagnosed with an eating disorder:


Transgender respondents age 13-24 diagnosed with an eating disorder:


All teens and young adults diagnosed with an eating disorder:


Among the LGBTQ population,

men are particularly vulnerable.

Percentage of the male population who identify as gay:


Percentage of men with eating disorders who identify as gay:


Whether you’re on your path to recovery, or supporting someone
who is struggling, we’re here for you.

We’re here for you.

Meet Allison Burnett, LICSW, CEDS, TCT

As a certified LGBT affirmative psychotherapy provider, a licensed independent clinical social worker, a certified eating disorders specialist, and a member of the LGBTQ community, Allison is a true champion for our clients. To further expand her knowledge to help our transgender clients, Allison also received her credential as a transgender care therapist.

She serves as Alsana’s National Director of Alumni and Advocacy and works with our Alumni Champions and Partners in Pride to support our LGBTQ clients through their recovery journey—even after discharge.

Allison spearheaded Alsana Partners in Pride, a program created to maintain not only a safe space, but an affirming space for our LGBTQ clients. The goal of the program is to collaboratively work on programmatic issues specific to our LGBTQ clients, develop case conceptualizations that honor the experiences of our LGBTQ clients, create a culture that is not just accepting, but also affirming of our LGBTQ clients, and deliver staff education on LGBTQ concerns.

If Allison isn’t busy with clients, you might find her hiking with her two dogs or catching some college football (Roll Tide!).


Cultivating an Affirming Space

For a space to be truly safe for the LGBTQ population, it must be more than physically safe and generally respectful. It must be affirming, intentional, and compassionate—taking safety and respect to a new level. Promoting an understanding of vocabulary specific to the LGBTQ community is essential to maintaining a safe space for our clients to pursue healing. Our team of expert providers are educated on LGBTQ-specific terminology, the coming out process, the transition process, as well as the many other unique challenges and opportunities that emerge in interactions within the LGBTQ population. Of course, definitions are always evolving, and words can mean different things to different people. So, keep in mind that these definitions simply offer a launch pad for open discussion and understanding.

Sex Assigned at Birth

Biological sex: the physical anatomy and gendered hormones one is born with, generally described as male, female, or intersex, and often confused with gender.

Female: a person with a specific set of sexual anatomy pursuant to this label.

Intersex: a person with a sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the labels of female or male.

Male: a person with a specific set of sexual anatomy pursuant to this label.

Binary Sex: a traditional and outdated view of sex, limiting possibilities to “female” or “male”


Gender Identity: the internal perception of an individual’s gender, and how they label themselves.

Bigender: a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender).

Binary Gender: a traditional and outdated view of gender, limiting possibilities to “man” and “woman.”

Cisgender: a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.

Genderless: a person who does not identify with any gender.

Gender non-conforming: non-traditional gender presentation; identifies outside gender binary

Genderqueer: (1) a blanket term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary; (2) a person who identifies as both a man and a woman, or as neither a man nor a woman.


Transgender: a blanket term used to describe all people who are not cisgender.

FTM/MTF: a person whose personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.

Transitioning: a term used to describe the process of moving from one sex/gender to another, sometimes this is done by hormone or surgical treatments.

Have questions or need more info?

We offer a number of free online support groups to help you get the support you need.


Eating Disorders Among LGBTQ Youth – A 2018 National Assessment (Rep.). (2018). Retrieved May 15, 2019, from The Trevor Project website:

Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., … Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in U.S. Adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication–Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980–989.

Start the road to recovery with Alsana.

We’re here to help!

How can we help you get started on your journey today?

For me

For family

I am a provider