Background: The treatment of transgender youth with an eating disorder presents particular considerations due to the unique combination of body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, malnutrition coupled with the evolving gender identity in the midst of biological and physical changes. At this time, public awareness, societal acknowledgment and legislative initiatives have led to wider acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender rights. However, at the same time, transgender youth are at increased risk for mental health problems, including eating disorders.
Objective: To describe two cases of trans adolescents with anorexia nervosa treated in a day treatment program.
Methods: This paper will discuss the two clinical vignettes of the transgender adolescent with anorexia nervosa. The focused care included specific attention to the initial disclosure of gender identity in a safe space, name and pronoun preferences, and wardrobe and hairstyle changes. In addition, treatment focused on the reduction of social anxiety around meal consumption, with special attention given to the impact of weight on the development of secondary sex characteristics. Themes of identity, rejection and secrecy were explored.
Conclusion: In summary, treating transgender youth with anorexia nervosa requires additional considerations is more complex than treating cis gender youth. Additional issues, such as hormonal treatments, the development of secondary sexual characteristics, and social and cultural factors, can exacerbate eating disorder symptoms. Treatment should focus on understanding the disorder's etiology and trajectory within this lens.