Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Christia Spears Brown


Past research estimates that over 60% of adolescents and young adults report eating disorder symptomology (EDS), increasing their risk for psychiatric and physical comorbidities, substance abuse, and self-harm. EDS rates are also higher among transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals. TGNC individuals also experience higher rates of bias-based harassment, than their cisgender peers. Much of this harassment is body-based harassment (BBH), such that the harassment often targets aspects of an individual’s body. The current study utilized a pantheoretical framework, incorporating minority stress theory and objectification theory, and a multi-method approach to investigate (1) if BBH increases TGNC individuals’ risk for EDS and depression, (2) if positive body image (PBI) moderates this risk, and (3) the different appearance pressures and concerns TGNC individuals experience. Participants (N = 401) ranged in age from 18 to 65, Mage = 25, SD = 7.62, Mode age = 18.00. Twenty-one participants described themselves as nonbinary (Mage = 24.71), 1 as a transgender woman (Mage = unknown), 15 as transgender only (Mage = 32.76 ), 22 preferred to self-describe (e.g., gender fluid, agender, etc., Mage = 28.83), 23 as gender queer (Mage = 29.00 ), 201 as cisgender women and/or women (Mage = 22.89), 106 as cisgender men and/or men (Mage = 28.97), and 12 as cisgender (without any other gender selection, Mage =3 3.63). Results from an Exploratory Structural Equation Model (ESEM) suggested that BBH was a unique type of bias-based harassment and was related to EDS and depression. Results also suggested that PBI may be a promising mechanism to reduce the impact of BBH. Qualitative analyses suggested TGNC individuals face unique body image pressures and may engage in body surveillance in anticipation of harassment. Lastly, fears of gaining weight and a desire to be thin were mentioned frequently across all gender groups.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)