Transgender/Gender-Nonconforming People and Cancer

Transgender people face the greatest barriers to quality health care, coupled with a dearth of research on their cancer risks and experiences. They face frequent discrimination by health care providers, many of whom also lack information about trans bodies and health care needs.

Uninsured rates are highest among transgender people. In NYC, for example, The Department of Health reported in 1999 that 21% of transgender respondents reported having no health insurance of any kind. Even those with health insurance can face difficulties in obtaining appropriate cancer screenings. A transgender woman, listed on her insurance as female, but still having an intact prostate gland, would not be covered for prostate cancer screening. The same is true for a transgender man with an intact cervix.

Far too little is known about the cancer risks of transgender hormone use. Research is essential. However, the results may be limited as many transgender people obtain their hormones without a prescription and use varying and sometimes excessive dosages.

Transgender people have extremely high rates of smoking, drinking and HIV, all increasing their risks for developing an array of cancers, including lung cancer, anal cancer and liver cancer.

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