It’s a new year and some of the resolutions we made were related to health. I doubt many of us were thinking about our cervix at the time. Many trans men and genderqueer/gender non-conforming folks have a cervix and that cervix needs to be looked after with regular Pap tests.
No one (whether female, trans or gender non-conforming) enjoys having a Pap test. However, the alternative of living with unchecked cancer is not a reasonable option, in my opinion.
This week the Fenway Clinic in Boston released research findings that indicate FTM patients had over 10 times higher risk of having an inadequate Pap test compared to female patients. One could read these numbers as showing that trans men as a group have a 10 times increase in their risk for cervical cancer when compared to females.
Part of the explanation for this statistic is that transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been treated with varying degrees of disrespect by medical institutions for more years than anyone can count. Therefore, we are very wary of medical institutions and often use medical care as a last resort. However, when people are treated with respect during interactions with medical staff, statistics like those in the Fenway research can be reversed.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has a good article on how we can protect ourselves from cervical cancer.
Buck Angel, trans advocate and porn star, made a great public service video about the importance of regular gynecological exams for trans men who are still living with their cervix.
Best of health to everyone in 2014!