Eating Disorder Diagnoses and Symptom Presentation in Transgender Youth: a Scoping Review
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).
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.
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.
KeywordsEating disorders Eating pathology Gender dysphoria Transgender Pediatric Young adults
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.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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