Bonnie Kester, Psy.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Karen Meteyer, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Kate Evarts, PsyD, Committee Member
  • Kathi Borden, PhD, Committee Member


transgender, gender diverse, eating disorder, transphobia, minority stress

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Gender diverse individuals experience a multitude of oppressive interactions within our society and receive incessant messages of invalidation, oppression, and aggression. These chronic stressors have been shown to increase the risk of developing disordered eating behaviors within this population. The current study aims to explore how internalized transphobia may affect the development of disordered eating behavior as viewed through the Minority Stress Framework. This study explored the lived experience of being gender diverse in our society and how this may relate to the development of disordered eating behavior while also investigating protective factors. This study utilized a qualitative phenomenological methodology, recruiting seven gender diverse adults over the age of 18 who exhibited disordered eating behaviors. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and the Transgender Identity Survey (Bockting et al., 2020), followed by a semistructured exploratory interview to gain narrative data directly from trans people, a population known to experience internalized transphobia (Bockting, 2015). Chronic body image struggles, low self-esteem, trauma history, and harmful expectations related to gender expression appeared as the major contributing factors to the development of disordered eating behaviors. These harmful influences appeared to hinder the ability of multiple participants in their exploration of their gender identity. Gender-affirming care, meaningful activities, community, and affirming clothing emerged as the major protective factors in the lives of the participants. The contributions toward the field of gender studies gleaned from this study include aiding psychologists in developing or applying preventative measures to reduce the risk of disordered eating in gender diverse individuals, as well as in better understanding and appreciating the complexities of gender diverse adults’ experiences.


Bonnie Kester

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0007-2059-145X