Gina Masullo, Associate Professor at the University of Texas, shares her experience of navigating breast cancer as a gender-nonconforming lesbian in a recent article for Huffpost,
On top of experiencing intensified breast dysphoria in the highly gendered environment, Gina was also misgendered and her primary support person (her girlfriend) was relegated to the label of “a friend” (more palatable for the healthcare team). Gina’s story helps to illustrate how alienating healthcare can be for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
When I explained to one of my surgeons that I am a gender-nonconforming lesbian and wanted to downsize, I felt like she didn’t understand why I was sharing my sexuality. I felt unheard and unseen. She sent me to a breast database to find my “new boobs.” I sobbed as I searched because I couldn’t find breasts as small as I wanted.
The article includes Gina’s suggestions for more inclusive care:
We can do better. It would have helped me if employees at my oncologists’ office had gender-sensitivity training that teaches them not everyone navigates breast cancer in a typical way, looks the way they expect, or has a heterosexual partner. Medical forms should be changed to provide space for same-gender partners. Nonprofits that provide resources for breast cancer patients should consider that not all patients are hyper-feminine women who want bright pink swag. We need to create more inclusive queer-friendly social media support spaces for all types of illnesses, including breast cancer.
You can find the Huffpost article here.
Images: Huffpost/Joy Jenkins.