Improve cervical screening for transgender people, says expert


More should be done to include trans and gender-diverse people in the UK’s cervical screening programme, an expert has told Euronews.

Dr Kate Nambiar, who specialises in sexual and reproductive health, said people who don’t identify as women but still have a cervix feel excluded because healthcare authorities are not sending them routine reminders to book an appointment.

Other campaigners say such people also feel a stigma about asking to be screened because of claims that “only females get cervical cancer”, a hashtag that was trending on Twitter last week.

The claim has been seen as transphobic by people like Fox Fisher, a trans man who still has a cervix. He has been campaigning with the NHS to reduce the stigma and encourage more people like himself to go and get screened.

Responding to #OnlyFemalesGetCervicalCancer he added: “The intentions behind hashtags like that are to deliberately and purposely exclude transgender men and transmasculine people from a conversation that impacts them hugely… To use such a serious issue as a way to punch down on transgender people is very disrespectful to survivors and is incredibly toxic.”

Dr Nambiar said: “This is about preventing cancer. It frustrates me that people are trying to politicise this issue to take a poke at trans people. Cancer screening is about taking a broad view of everyone who could be at risk and creating a safe and respectful environment for people to be tested.”

For some transgender people, the thought of going for cervical screening can prove traumatic and trigger anxiety related to gender dysphoria.

Fisher added: “It’s important to reach transmasculine people who might be so dysphoric with their cervix that they don’t want to deal with the anxiety and trauma of getting it looked at.”

Today's Vocabulary

1. cervical screening (n) 
commonly known as a smear test, is a procedure whereby a sample of cells is taken from the cervix

2. cervix (n)
narrow, lower part of a woman’s uterus

3. transphobia (n)
fear or dislike of transgender people

4. transgender (adj)
used to
describe someone who feels that they are not the same gender (= sex) as the gender (= sex) they were said to have when they were born

5. traumatic (adj)
emotionally disturbing or distressing

6. dysphoria (n)
severe unhappiness, especially a person’s feeling of being very uncomfortable in their body or of being in the wrong body

  1. Who is Fox Fisher?

  2. What is the job of Kate Nambiar?

  3. What is the misconception about  cervical cancer?

  4. Why is cancer screening important?
  1. What images are in your mind when you hear the word ‘transgender’?

  2. What do you think are the main causes of cervical cancer?

  3. Who is most at risk of developing cervical cancer?

  4. What do you think are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

  5. Why do we screen for cervical cancer?