From February 25 through March 3, the National Eating Disorders Association hosts its annual NEDAwareness campaign.
Trigger warning: This post includes mention of eating disorders.
Post submitted by Children, Youth and Families Program Coordinator Sula Malina
When I came out at 17, the notion that I had an eating disorder was the furthest thing from my mind. I was a queer, trans, non-binary, masculine-presenting person and, as far as I knew, eating disorders were about conforming to beauty standards. I did not identify with the popular narratives I saw in media; in my mind, I was controlling my weight to reduce the appearance of my hips, chest and cheeks -- all of which translated as “feminine” to me.
As a non-binary person, losing weight was my own dangerous form of self-controlled gender transition; I wanted to appear “androgynous” at any cost. In reality, there is no such thing as “looking androgynous.” The idea that such a singular image exists is rooted in fatphobia, transphobia, transmisogyny and racism. It is no accident that the few examples we see of non-binary identity in popular media are consistently thin, white, transmasculine and hairless.
It took years of therapy with mental health providers who were competent in transgender identities and eating disorders before I came to terms with my reality. I was diagnosed with the most common eating disorder: Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. Finally, I began the lengthy and ongoing process of recovery. For me, this meant not only engaging in conventional methods of eating disorder recovery, but also recognizing eating disorders as a social justice issue, confronting my unconscious biases and pursuing safe methods toward physical transition.
HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut’s 2017 survey of more than 12,000 LGBTQ youth revealed sobering statistics around the prevalence of disordered eating behaviors among those in the community.
From February 25 through March 3, the National Eating Disorders Association hosts its annual NEDAwareness campaign. This year, the theme is “Come as You Are.” This NEDAwareness week, here are some steps you can take to support LGBTQ youth, whether or not they are vocal about struggling with disordered eating behaviors.