Gender confirming medical interventions and eating disorder symptoms among transgender individuals

Rylan J. Testa, Nic Rider, Nancy A. Haug, Kimberly F. Balsam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Studies indicate that transgender individuals may be at risk of developing eating disorder symptoms (EDS). Elevated risk may be attributed to body dissatisfaction and/or societal reactions to nonconforming gender expression, such as nonaffirmation of a person's gender identity (e.g., using incorrect pronouns). Limited research suggests that gender-confirming medical interventions (GCMIs) may prevent or reduce EDS among transgender people. Method: Participants included 154 transfeminine spectrum (TFS) and 288 transmasculine spectrum (TMS) individuals who completed the Trans Health Survey. Serial multiple mediation analyses controlling for age, education, and income were used to examine whether body satisfaction and nonaffirmation mediate any found relationships between various GCMIs (genital surgery, chest surgery, hormone use, hysterectomy, and hair removal) and EDS. Results: For TFS individuals, the nonaffirmation to body satisfaction path mediated relationships between all GCMIs and EDS, although body satisfaction alone accounted for more of the indirect effects than this path for chest surgery. For TMS individuals, relationships between all GCMIs and EDS were mediated by the nonaffirmation to body satisfaction path. Conclusion: Findings support the hypothesis that GCMIs reduce experiences of nonaffirmation, which increases body satisfaction and thus decreases EDS. Among TFS participants, the relationship between chest surgery and lower levels of EDS was mediated most strongly by body satisfaction alone, suggesting that satisfaction with one's body may result in lower EDS even if affirmation from the external world is unchanged. Implications of these findings for intervention, policy, and legal efforts are discussed, and future research recommendations are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-936
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume36
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Fingerprint

Transgender Persons
Thorax
Hair Removal
Feeding and Eating Disorders
Health Surveys
Hysterectomy
Hormones
Education

Keywords

  • Body satisfaction
  • Eating disorder
  • Gender confirming
  • Sex reassignment
  • Transgender

Cite this

Gender confirming medical interventions and eating disorder symptoms among transgender individuals. / Testa, Rylan J.; Rider, Nic; Haug, Nancy A.; Balsam, Kimberly F.

In: Health Psychology, Vol. 36, No. 10, 10.2017, p. 927-936.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Testa, Rylan J. ; Rider, Nic ; Haug, Nancy A. ; Balsam, Kimberly F. / Gender confirming medical interventions and eating disorder symptoms among transgender individuals. In: Health Psychology. 2017 ; Vol. 36, No. 10. pp. 927-936.
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