LGBT+ Related Bullying in the Eating Disorder Community: Krista Sturgeon Blogs

16 Feb 2017

LGBT+ related bullying in the eating disorder community

When you go for eating disorder treatment the last thing you ever expect is to be bullied in this environment, but when you are not a straight, white, female it happens more than you might think. I must admit that things are getting better, but people that consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community still face institutional bullying all of the time.

As we all well know, eating disorders are traditionally considered strictly the domain of white teenage girls…right?

Nothing could be further from the truth, but a large number of treatment centers and stand alone therapists still have this preconceived notion. Quite a few of them will not treat trans individuals at all (a group of people that are already grossly underserved in so many ways) mostly because of a lack of training, but some, because of transphobia.

“Eating disorders are traditionally considered strictly the domain of white teenage girls”

 

Imagine going for residential help and being a lesbian in group therapy, listening to the other girls talk about over-controlling boyfriends and such, and you really don’t fit in with the group at all. You want to talk about one of your major triggers, which could be that you are scared to come out to your family. Two things are probably running through your mind:
1) Your peers and group leader are not going to “get it” or even worse…
2) You are risking some sort of homophobic backlash.
Both of these things would make your treatment ineffective.

I do have an example of a girl who was a lesbian in an inpatient treatment facility (both the girl and the facility shall remain nameless) that had communal showers. She was verbally assaulted with homophobic slurs on almost a daily basis after deciding to “come out” in group therapy. She reported this, but the others were never caught “in the act”.

“She was verbally assaulted with homophobic slurs on almost a daily basis after deciding to ‘come out’ in group therapy”

 

It was brought up in group therapy by the lead therapist who condemned the act, but did nothing to actually stop it. Unfortunately the girl had to leave the treatment program. On the brighter side, she did some research and found a treatment program that was a better fit for her.

Before I go on, PLEASE do not let the above part of my blog stop anyone from reaching out for help! The point of this is to expose the people that bully and to remind you that you should never let other people silence you! I wrote this blog in the hope that it will empower you and encourage you to stand up for yourself and say “you do not have the right to treat me this way and I deserve equal treatment as anybody that you serve.”

I want everybody to practice saying that phrase over and over again because unfortunately we do not live in a world (yet) that is as accepting of the LGBTQ community as it should be. We still live in a place and time where everybody is assumed to be heterosexual until otherwise specified.

“Unfortunately we do not live in a world (yet) that is as accepting of the LGBTQ community as it should be”

 

I wrote this blog for two reasons, one was to open up the eyes of the people that bully, who in some cases are the treatment facilities themselves. Hopefully by showing them how the world is evolving, they too will evolve with it. Hopefully they will come to understand that not everybody who walks through their door is heterosexual, gender-conforming or female.

Lastly, I wanted everyone out there in the LGBTQ community to know that it is okay to reach out for help when you need it. Remember that there are people out there who want to genuinely help. By coming to this site you have begun the process…follow it forward and lead your true, amazing life!

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