Eating disorders and LGBTIQA+ communities - Eating Disorders Victoria
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Eating disorders and LGBTIQA+ communities

Home ~ Eating disorders A-Z ~ Eating disorders and LGBTIQA+ communities

On this page we outline how eating disorders can affect people in LGBTIQA+ communities, including the risk factors and specific services available to help.

Did you know that those who identify as sexually or gender diverse have an increased risk of disordered eating and eating disorders?

Stereotypes around eating disorders will have you believe that they only affect adolescent cis-gendered females, however we know that this simply isn’t true. Anyone can be affected by an eating disorder, with certain people at higher risk than others. While the body of research for people in sexual and gender diverse communities is still growing, there is evidence to suggest that those who identify in these groups have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and other specified feeding and eating disorders.

Key stats:

  • An Australian study found that 23% of trans young people have a current or previous diagnosis of an eating disorder (Strauss et.al., 2017).
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens may be at higher risk of binge eating than their heterosexual peers (Austin et.al., 2009).
  • review from the United States found that lifetime prevalence for eating disorders is higher among sexual minority adults compared with cisgender heterosexual adults however, more detailed research is required (Nagata, Ganson & Austin 2020). 

Risk factors

According to the NEDA in the US, risk factors that may contribute to disordered eating and eating disorders in LGBTIQA+ communities include:

  • Fear of rejection or experience of rejections by friends, family, and co-workers
  • Internalized negative messages/beliefs about oneself due to sexual orientation, non-normative gender expressions, or transgender identity
  • Experiences of violence and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which research shows sharply increases vulnerability to an eating disorder
  • Discrimination due to one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Being a victim of bullying due to one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Discordance between one’s biological sex and gender identity
  • Inability to meet body image ideals within some LGBTQ+ cultural contexts

Recovery is possible: Stefan's story

Stefan shares his experience of anorexia, anxiety, depression and body dysmorphia. Stefan is now fully recovered, and supports others through EDV’s Peer Mentoring Program.

Getting help

Bloom Support Group

This group is exclusively for the LGBTQIA+ community who are experiencing eating disorders. It is a safe space to discuss the dynamic challenges of eating disorders, body image, gender identity and sexuality and how this is impacting you at the moment.

These groups give people the opportunity to draw upon the support, experience and skills of others facing similar issues. It is an open space to discuss what you are struggling with and to reflect on the current challenges. We welcome people to attend these groups at any stage of their wellness and recovery journey.

Groups will be held online via Zoom and participants are required to register beforehand. You must be 18 or over to attend this group.

For further information on these groups, please contact our Wellbeing Program Coordinator, Amy, via email at amy.woods@eatingdisorders.org.au

Join the Bloom Support Group

Bloom groups run every second Monday at 11am via Zoom. Bookings are essential.

FREE to join!

View dates and book

Other support options

If you are concerned about yourself, or someone you care for, please contact Eating Disorders Victoria. Our service offerings include:

  • The EDV Hub – a free, confidential phone and email support service that is a great first port of call for most enquiries. The Hub provides information, support, clinician referrals, or just someone to talk to. Open Mon – Fri, 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM. Contact the Hub here.
  • EDV Telehealth Nurse – suitable for people who are currently on the eating disorder treatment journey and are looking for additional support to link in with services. The nurse actas a central point of contact to help people access services, locate specialized eating disorder health professionals, provide information and help people work towards recoveryMake an appointment with the Telehealth Nurse here.
  • Wellbeing Check Ins – as part of our response to COVID-19, we are offering phone call support sessions. Access up to 5 sessions with a trained counsellor. Make an appointment for a Wellbeing Check In here.
  • Peer Mentoring Program – this free program provides one-on-one mentoring with an EDV employee who has recovered from an eating disorder. Mentoring relationships last for a period of six months. Learn more about the Peer Mentoring Program here.

Other support organisations:

Rainbow Door
Operating from 10am – 6pm everyday. Phone 1800 729 367, text 0480 017 246 or email support@rainbowdoor.org.au 

RAINBOW DOOR

QLife
QLIFE is operation 365 days a year, 3pm – 12 midnight. QLIFE provides anonymous, free, confidential peer support, information and referrals to LGBTIQA+ communities, their friends and families Contact with QLife can be made via phone 1800 184 527.

For more webchat service and information about QLife:

QLIFE

queerspace
“queerspace is an LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing support service established in 2009 by LGBTIQ+ communities for LGBTIQ+ communities. queerspace has a focus on relationships, families, parenting and young people and offers co-located services across the north-west metropolitan region of Victoria.”

QUEERSPACE

Eating Disorders Victoria has put together a step-by-step guide take if you are concerned that you may be experiencing an eating disorder. It also covers how to talk to family or friends about what you’re going through. Remember that you have the best chance of success if you include people you trust on your journey.

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