It’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week so #LetsTalkScreening!
Here at Live Through This, we are passionate about addressing screening inequalities for the trans and non-binary community. This is why we have partnered with Jo’s Trust to invite Felix to share his experience and reflections on cervical screening.
“I’m Felix, I’m a trans man with a cervix, and I go for cervical screenings. My first one was because I happened to have a GP who raised it with me. I was aware that I’d need them, but I didn’t get called for it in the usual way. NHS systems don’t cater well for people with a male gender marker on their patient records who also have a cervix.
The actual experience itself was fine, I was lucky to feel reasonably comfortable with the GP, even though I didn’t know her very well. My memories of it are that she was calm, she didn’t make a big fuss, or act like she was having to do anything unusual. I think for me the main thing I need from clinicians is to not to treat you like you are an oddity, be really clear about what the process is, and be respectful of the language I use about my body.
However, I’ve had other terrible experiences. People letting student doctors in without my consent, people asking me if I have ‘finished’ my transition, or if I plan to have any further surgeries. I wouldn’t actually mind student doctors being present, but at least ask me first! I’d really encourage medical professionals to consider if they actually need to ask a question for a medical reason, or if their curiosity is getting the better of them.
There are a few specialist trans sexual health services that can offer cervical screening, but trans people shouldn’t have to travel to these to get adequate care. People of any gender can have a cervix and this is something all medical professionals need to know and be prepared for.
People might have complicated or difficult feelings about attending a screening appointment for a whole range of reasons, and though being trans might be one of them, it’s not automatically going to mean it will be awful. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about my body, and I don’t want doctors to be either.
I can only speak about my own experiences and my own feelings about cervical screening. I recognise that for many trans people it can be a really unpleasant undertaking. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, consideration, and kindness in these situations. If I could make one request to sample takers, it’s to check in with your patient and see what they need, don’t make assumptions, and respect their choices and the language they use about their body.”
For more information about cervical screening check out our campaigns My Cervix My Service, Remove the Doubt, and Cancer Risk and Screening for Trans, Non-binary and Gender Diverse People. You can also view the locations of trans specific sexual health clinics offering cervical screening via our Clinic Maps.