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Current Psychiatry Reports

, 21:107 | Cite as

Eating Disorder Diagnoses and Symptom Presentation in Transgender Youth: a Scoping Review

  • Jennifer S. CoelhoEmail author
  • Janet Suen
  • Beth A. Clark
  • Sheila K. Marshall
  • Josie Geller
  • Pei-Yoong Lam
Sex and Gender Issues in Behavioral Health (CN Epperson and L Hantsoo, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sex and Gender Issues in Behavioral Health

Abstract

Purpose of Review

This scoping review includes recent literature on eating disorder diagnoses and evaluation of eating disorder symptom presentation among transgender youth (ages 8–25).

Recent Findings

A total of 20 publications from the previous 5 years were identified, including case reports, retrospective chart reviews, and surveys. Significantly higher rates of eating disorder symptoms were documented in transgender youth compared to cisgender youth. Similarly, some studies reported transgender youth were more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder than cisgender youth, though the proportion of youth with eating disorder diagnoses varied across studies. A consistent theme across case studies was engagement in food restriction and/or compensatory eating behaviors to prevent puberty onset or progression, suggesting that for some transgender youth, these behaviors may be understood as a means of coping with gender-related distress.

Summary

Clinical care could be enhanced through establishment of best practices for screening in settings offering eating disorder treatment and gender-affirming care, as well as greater collaboration among these programs. Research is needed to validate eating disorder measures for use with transgender youth and evaluate the effects of eating disorder treatment and gender-affirming medical interventions on the well-being of transgender youth.

Keywords

Eating disorders Eating pathology Gender dysphoria Transgender Pediatric Young adults 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Melissa Smith MLIS, BA (Reference Librarian at the University of British Columbia) for assistance in developing and consulting on the search methodology. We would also like to thank Pam Narang, PsyD, R. Psych. (British Columbia Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic) for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11920_2019_1097_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)

References

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer S. Coelho
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Janet Suen
    • 1
  • Beth A. Clark
    • 3
  • Sheila K. Marshall
    • 4
    • 5
  • Josie Geller
    • 2
    • 6
  • Pei-Yoong Lam
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for Children & AdolescentsBC Children’s HospitalVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Allen-Berenson Fellow in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality StudiesBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  4. 4.School of Social WorkUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Division of Adolescent Health & Medicine, Department of PediatricsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  6. 6.Eating Disorders Program, St. Paul’s HospitalVancouverCanada

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