Eating Disorders in the LGBTQ Community

by TK Staff

The acronym LGBTQ is fairly well understood today. Most people know that it refers to an individual’s sexual orientation. But, it is important to remember that this is only one component of any human being.

At the end of the day, those who identify as gay and bisexual are everyday people from all walks of life, people with dreams and aspirations, thoughts and emotions just like everyone else. Often these are individuals who live under the burden of being “different.” In our country, being different can translate into bullying, ridicule and/or social ostracization.rsz_1rsz_chalis007-189517-unsplash

A recent article in Teen Vogue revealed that young LGBTQ people are more predisposed to have eating disorders than their heterosexual counterparts. In fact, according to a recent survey, more than half of LGBTQ youth have an eating disorder, with transgender people specifically at risk.

Those conducting the survey hoped to shed light on this issue and provide critical information on the needs of these young people to health care providers, caretakers, and educators. As such, the survey primarily focused on the relationships between sexual orientation, gender identity, eating disorders and suicidal ideation and was the first of its kind in the U.S.

It surveyed more than 1,000 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 who self-identified as LGBTQ. The results of the study showed that approximately 54% of those surveyed had been diagnosed with an eating disorder with the most common disorder being bulimia.

Transgender youth were found to be most at risk—71% of transgender youth surveyed who identify as straight had been diagnosed with an eating disorder. In addition, the survey revealed that a majority of LGBTQ youth (58%) who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder have also had suicidal ideation.

This study serves as a launch point in researching this population of young people. As acceptance hopefully grows and more young people feel the freedom to be who they truly are, everyone needs greater understanding of the challenges they face. Only then, can they receive the treatment they need in order to live healthy, vital and productive lives.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jacquelyn Ekern March 23, 2018 at 4:15 pm

Excellent blog on LGBTQ community and eating disorders! Thank you, TK, for continuing to be a thought leader and setting the bar for acceptance and support of all human beings without judgment! Eating Disorder Hope is a fan!

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