Advocacy groups: CDC must revise cancer screening policy for transgender women


WASHINGTON — Two leading LGBT advocacy groups on Friday called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to “investigate and change any discriminatory guidelines” that deny federally subsidized breast cancer screenings for transgender women.

cdcIn a letter to the CDC, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) called on the agency to revise policies that exclude transgender women from cancer screenings, “which is inconsistent with well-established administrative precedent and the strong federal commitment to ending health disparities resulting from lack of access to care.”

The action comes after a transgender woman in Denver filed suit against Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Women’s Wellness Connection after she was denied a free breast cancer screening.

Jennifer Blair, 62, told KUSA-TV that Women’s Wellness Connection, a state-run healthcare program, turned her away because she is “not genetically female,” citing CDC guidance.

The federally funded program provides free cancer screenings to low-income women.

Blair, who had gender reassignment surgery more than a decade ago, takes a daily maintenance dose of Estradiol, a doctor-prescribed synthetic estrogen. Blair said “that dose also does put me at an elevated risk for a variety of tumors, including breast cancer.”

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“Breast cancer screenings save lives and should be available to all women, period,” said Shane Snowdon, director of the HRC Health & Aging Program. “This policy isn’t simply discriminatory, it’s dangerous, and we hope our leaders at the CDC will address it immediately.”

“Excluding transgender women from a breast cancer screening program has no legitimate basis and flies in the face of accepted medical standards,” said Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE director of policy. “That is irrational discrimination, plain and simple. We hope and expect that the CDC will act swiftly to make clear that these programs must serve all women.”

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