National Eating Disorders Association
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As someone who engages in community-based radical mental health work, I believe in the power of narratives in the fight against mentalism. Although not everybody has the privilege, capacity, or desire to share their narrative, the narratives that are shared re-shape the social perception of psychological disorders. These narratives force those who are unaffected to view mental illness from a humanizing and empowered perspective.

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Why do I do karate? I’ve wanted to do a martial art since I was a kid, but my mother’s strict no-violence policy wouldn’t allow it. In college, decreased parental supervision enabled me to finally live the dream. At least, that’s what I tell people. It’s not untrue, but it’s not the whole truth either.

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Conversations surrounding eating disorders, body image, and beauty standards are generally centered on the narratives of straight, cisgender* women. However, these conversations often exclude the experiences of many LGBT people who also struggle with body image concerns and disordered eating.  

We as individuals and as a community have unique needs and concerns, and we often face a multitude of barriers in terms of accessing treatment and feeling at home in a recovery community that should include us and yet often does not.

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When I first sought treatment for an eating disorder, I had no idea I was transgender.

When I tell people this, I’m usually met with incredulity. How could you not know you identified as a boy? That seems like something one usually has a pretty good handle on. In my case, I didn’t have the words to express what I was feeling internally. I didn’t know there was such a word for someone whose gender identity doesn’t agree with the gender they were assigned at birth.

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National Minority Mental Health Month may be winding down, but the conversation about mental health in marginalized communities doesn’t — and shouldn’t — stop. Mental health issues don’t discriminate. Although eating disorders have historically been associated with young, cisgender, straight, white, upper-class females, they can affect anyone. They don’t choose any one race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or any other classification. While anyone can have an eating disorder, minorities tend to face unique obstacles when dealing with mental health issues.

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NEDA and the Trevor Project teamed up on a national survey to better understand how LGBTQ+ youth are affected by eating disorders. We found that a majority of those surveyed have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and more than 75% suspect they have an eating disorder. And, of those diagnosed with an eating disorder, 87.5% have considered suicide.

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Mollee Gray is an actress and dancer most recognized as Giggles in Disney films Teen Beach and Teen Beach 2 and as a finalist on season 6 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. She currently tours nationwide teaching master classes and dance workshops, and serves as a celebrity ambassador for Breaking the Chains Foundation.

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This week marks GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week, a week organized by educators and students to put a stop to name-calling and bullying in schools. Being teased or bullied about weight is emerging as a risk factor in many eating disorders. Additionally, LGBTQ+ individuals are at higher risk of eating disorders due to stigma, discrimination, and body image distress.

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At NEDA, we know that eating disorders don’t discriminate against gender, sexuality, class, race, or physical ability. We also know how important it is to hear from a variety of individuals in the eating disorder and recovery community, which is why we have partnered with The Trevor Project on a survey designed to give a voice to young LGBTQ+ people. The Trevor Project is a leading non-profit focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth.

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It is that time of year again: the holiday season. It is supposed to be a time of merriment and joining together of family, but for many it just winds up being a time of despair, dread, hangovers, fights, tears, and sadness.

For those of us who have transitioned or are nonbinary this can also include wondering how grandma will respond when she sees you either with a new haircut, masculine or feminine clothes, sporting some sweet sideburns, or binding/enhancing your chests. 

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