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Eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ community

During Pride Month and beyond, we’re here to celebrate and uplift the LGBTQ+ community. But we also recognise that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and others in the community are disproportionately affected by eating disorders.

Risk factors like discrimination, fear of not being accepted, distress over body image, internalised shame and stigma, and many more can make LGBTQ+ people more vulnerable. And systemic misconceptions and stigma among healthcare professionals can make it harder to seek support.

These and other barriers may mean it’s harder for people in the LGBTQ+ community to get the treatment they need and deserve. Below we’ve shared resources and services that can help you if you’re LGBTQ+ or are supporting someone who is.

Mental Health Services:

MindOut

A mental health service for LGBTQ+ people. They can provide advice and information over the phone, via email, or over webchat, or face-to-face if you are local to them in Brighton and Hove.

MindLine Trans

A nationwide confidential emotional, mental health support helpline for trans people. MindLine Trans provides a safe place to talk about your feelings confidentially.

General Support:

LGBT Foundation

A confidential, non-judgmental helpline service via phone and email to talk about whatever is on your mind and offer support and advice on a range of topics.

Gendered Intelligence

Providing a listening ear to transgender people, with staff made up of trans and non-binary people.

Switchboard

Providing an information, support and referral service via phone, email and one-to-one webchat. All Switchboard helpline staff and volunteers identify as LGBTQ+

The Proud Trust

Offering one-to-one webchat support to LGBTQ+ young people and the adults supporting them.

Finding a therapist

It can be really helpful to work with a therapist who shares your experiences, or who has been trained to work with LGBTQ+ clients.

Pink Therapy are the UK’s largest independent therapy organisation working with LGBTQ+ clients. You can search and find therapists on their site.

Gendered Intelligence’s Network for Therapists and Counsellors aims to support therapists and counsellors to offer a positive experience in a therapy setting for trans people and their families.

Concerns about treatment

If you are concerned that you’re not getting the treatment and support you need, there are steps you can take to raise and address this.

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offers advice to patients in England, and can support you with making a complaint about the service you’ve received.

The Patient and Client Council can offer you support if you have any concerns about treatment you’ve received in Northern Ireland.

The Community Health Council can support you with raising concerns in Wales.

The Patient Advice and Support Service provides advice and support to patients in Scotland.

Supporting someone who’s LGBTQ+?

If you know or are treating someone in the LGBTQ+ community who has an eating disorder, your support is invaluable in helping them to recover. Here’s how you can help.

Educate yourself

Eating disorders can be overlooked or dismissed in the LGBTQ+ community because they do not fit the stereotype as depicted in mass media. But there is no single way that eating disorders present in people who are unwell. You can learn about the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder here.

You can also read and listen to the experiences of people with eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ community – we’ve shared some of these below.

Create a safe space

Approach any conversations in a warm and non-judgmental, and handle with compassion and care. Let them know that you are there to listen and to support them.

Use inclusive language that affirms all gender identities and sexual orientations. Use gender neutral terms before assuming someone’s sexual or gender identity.

No one size fits all – comments championing body positivity can sometimes be unhelpful to those in the LGBTQ+ community as it may be invalidating to those who experience gender dysphoria.

Show your support

Seeking support for an eating disorder always takes courage, but even more so for LGBTQ+ people who might be met with additional misconceptions on top of those about eating disorders. Supporting someone to speak to a healthcare professional or contact a helpline, and being with them as they share what they’re experiencing, can be really helpful.

There’s a whole community out there

If you’re LGBTQ+ and struggling with an eating disorder, you’re not alone. Read the stories below from other members of the community who’ve been where you are.

Stories from the LGBTQ+ Community