Finding your new doctor is easy. We can help.
Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
FollowMyHealth®
Driving Directions
Cart
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

The high risk of eating disorders in trans men and women

June 27, 2019

The high risk of eating disorders in trans men and women

For years, eating disorders have been deemed a “women’s issue.” Many believed the illnesses, such as anorexia and bulimia, primary affected teen girls. However, we now understand that eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders, including transgender people.

Transgender — sometimes referred to as trans — is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the biological sex — male or female — they were assigned at birth.

Many trans people experience anxiety, depression, substance use and eating disorders, which may be due to feelings about their body. Trans people can also experience difficulties receiving care and the lack of support to freely express their gender identity. In fact, a recent study on American college students found that transgender students reported eating disorder symptoms approximately four times more than their cisgender — those whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth — classmates.

“Transgender individuals may be at risk of developing an eating disorder because of a desire to attain cultural ideals of gender and beauty,” says Linda Santangelo, PhD, lead clinical psychologist at the eating disorders program at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “This striving to meet the ideal body standards may be an attempt to be accepted as their identified gender.”

According to Dr. Santangelo, trans males — people assigned the female gender at birth who identify as male — may desire a body that is free of secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, large hips and adequate hormones to support menstruation. Similarly, trans women — those assigned the male gender at birth who identify as female — may desire a more thin or curvy body to adhere to the cultural female ideal.

However, Dr. Santangelo stresses that it is important not to generalize. Eating disorders are complex and their cause can stem from a multitude of factors. While some transgender people who have eating disorders may try to change their bodies to match their gender identity, this is not true for all.

There are no specific treatments for transgender people with eating disorders. However, because people with eating disorders and transgender individuals have higher rates of suicide, close attention to issues of safety is paramount.

“Eating disorders are treatable and transgender people are best served by a comprehensive team that includes mental health professionals specifically trained in eating disorders as well as gender-affirming care,” says Dr. Santangelo. “Treatment should also include support and assistance for those individuals who want to pursue hormone or surgical interventions to alter their bodies instead of merely focusing on body acceptance.”

Talk with your doctor if you or a loved one are concerned about disordered thoughts or behaviors related to food. Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital offers a specialized eating disorders treatment program and gender-affirming care.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

1-800-827-4277

If this is a life- or limb-threatening emergency, please call 911 immediately.


Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth
Optional


Find other numbers

View our phone directory

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process hospital price estimates if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

To learn more, call us at 858-499-5901.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.