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Colo. transgender woman denied breast cancer screening

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
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DENVER — A transgender woman in Denver is suing 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, recently turned her away because she is “not genetically female.”

breast-cancer-awarenessAccording to Blair, she had gender reassignment surgery more than a decade ago and takes a daily maintenance dose of Estradiol, a doctor-prescribed synthetic estrogen.

“That dose also does put me at an elevated risk for a variety of tumors, including breast cancer,” Blair said.

After she noticed unusual breast growth, Blair went to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Denver for a mammogram, paid for by Women’s Wellness Connection. The state-run program offers free cancer screenings for low income women.

“I don’t have any health insurance,” Blair said.

Although meeting all the requirements, she said she was denied coverage and an exam.

“I was shocked. I was hurt,” Blair said.

An source for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, speaking to LGBTQ Nation Tuesday on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing legal suit, confirmed that the program is federally funded by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however at issue is that guidelines from the CDC stipulate that the exams only cover clients who are “genetically female.”

The CDC offices in Atlanta are closed due to the current Federal Government shut down and LGBTQ Nation was unable to contact the CDC for a statement.

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Denver-based attorney Sarah Parady, who is representing Blair, says that the legal definition of “female” is at the center of the lawsuit, which alleges that the refusal to provide a screening violates the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

“It’s discrimination based on her transgender status. I think that’s pretty black and white,” said Parady.

Legal analysts note that issues surrounding Transgender healthcare are complicated. But Parady pointed out that it all boils down to a simple question: “If someone is born a man, but has surgery to become a woman, are they entitled to same free healthcare as other women?”

The Colorado Civil Rights Division did issue a written response to KUSA-TV, saying the state program is only following CDC guidelines.

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