Considered Gender and Racial Groups and Found no Difference Across these Groups
“It was found that there was no higher prevalence of lesbian and bisexual women and heterosexual women(Feldman, Meyer, 2007). This study also considered gender and racial groups and found no difference across these groups(Feldman, Meyer, 2007). While examining this study and its findings, it is crucial to consider the date the study was completed and the unrepresentativeness of trans identities.
According to Feldman and Meyer, an explanation for the higher prevalence in gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men may be attributed to the sociocultural perspective. This means that cultural and social values may of what an ideal body is and the unattainability of it can influence the self-esteem and environment around food and food intake(Feldman, Meyer, 2007). Furthermore, they explain that gay and bisexual men may be more highly affected by these cultural and social values compared to heterosexual men(Feldman, Meyer, 2007).
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Another piece of literature, Body Image and Eating Disorders Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, examines the intersection of LGBT youth and eating disorders and emphasizes that adolescence is a critical time for psychosocial development(McClain, Peebles, 2016). The study also claims “adolescence is also a critical developmental period for sexual orientation(McClain, Peebles, 2016).” Because the psychosocial development and sexual orientation development coincide during adolescence it is stated by McClain and Peebles, that “eating disorders may disproportionately affect vulnerable youth,” such as LGB youth(McClain, Peebles, 2016).
When determining a treatment or intervention for an individual with an eating disorder within the LGBT community, it is crucial to consider the cultural considerations of the LGBT community. While it is important to consider the fact an individual is in the LGBT community it is the responsibility of the social worker to understand being a part of a marginalized community such as the LGBT is only a risk factor for an eating disorder and not a causal relationship. This means that “most sexual minority or transgender youth never develop an eating disorder(McClain, Peebles, 2016).” Another aspect to consider for the LGBT population are barriers to healthcare services they may encounter. Access to effective mental health services are an imperative part in treatment for eating disorders and LGBT individuals continue to be underserved in health care which contributes to the health disparities they continue to face and is a form of systematic oppression and discrimination(Romanelli, Hudson, 2017).
Eating disorders are pervasive in nature and affect one’s life emotionally and physically. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder present themselves in different ways and sexual and gender identity contribute to how one experiences an eating disorder. The intersection of eating disorders and the LGBT community bring light to many cultural considerations a social worker will have to account for. A small but impactful step may include asking a client’s pronouns before assuming gender identity. Furthermore, instead of assuming and using the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” a practice could be replacing it with the word “partner.” If there is a large LGBT population using the services at your work, it is important to advocate for the hiring of service providers who identify as LGBT.
As social workers, it is their duty to approach every client with cultural humility and sensitivity. This means understanding how eating disorders present, as well as the history, oppression, discrimination the LGBT community may face.”