How to Help a Transgender Person with an Eating Disorder
The same compassion, kindness, and understanding you have for your cisgender friends and family struggling with eating disorders should also be given to your transgender friends and family.
Treatment protocols for transgender people may vary or include additional types of programs to address gender-related triggers, but much of the eating disorder treatment will be the same. Close attention should be paid to the complex bio-psycho-social variables faced by transgender individuals that can deepen the pain of discrimination and social alienation, and make recovery a more challenging process.
Despite eating disorders affecting all genders, there is a history of examining disordered eating through the limitations of the gender binary. Eating disorder treatment for transgender people needs to be complex enough to approach their identities without assuming the cause or origins behind someone's disordered eating habits.
Transgender individuals may be more successful in their treatment if they receive care from doctors who specialize in gender-affirming care. This type of care aims to help the patient feel accepted and creates a space of belonging where healing can take place.
Many clinicians who work in eating disorder prevention and screening or treatment programs have started including gender identity-affirmation measures in their practices. (10)
How to Parent Transgender People with an Eating Disorder
Parents are advised to avoid placing any pressure or judgment around how their child looks, dresses, or feels on any particular day. Comments made about weight, or exercise can be avoided all together, as even the best intending comments may lead to further body image and self-esteem issues.
It can be difficult for parents to hear that their transgender child is struggling with an eating disorder. However, working on establishing more open lines of communication-based on listening to your child’s experiences will help support them.
Parents can consider joining a support group to help them cope with their child's eating disorder. Support groups can be a good source of information on how to manage the relationship by talking with other parents of children with disordered eating behaviors.
If you are looking for clinically superior care that is attuned to your specific needs call our team at Within Health today. We offer thoughtful, uniquely tailored eating disorder treatment for transgender people, at home or on the go, wherever life takes you.