Navigating Cancer Survivorship as a Transgender or Non-Binary Person

The American Society for Clinical Oncology’s Cancer.Net brings you the story of Mal Malme (Mal or they/them) who is a self-described proud Boston-based theater artist, activist, writer, and healthcare clown.

Mal is an ovarian cancer survivor and describes their experience with the healthcare system as someone who identifies as transgender or outside the gender binary, and how this can create feelings of isolation and invisibility. They comment on their annual mammograms

Mammograms are no fun for anyone, as they can feel impersonal and cold. But as a non-binary person who struggles with this part of my body a great deal, this particular procedure is very challenging to get through. And to add on top of that, having to advocate every year to not get a pink gown, to be called by my name, and to not wait in an area that doesn’t have space for me just adds much more emotional weight, especially after consistently providing feedback about these issues and feeling as if it goes into a void.

Mal also talks about advocating for themselves and others, finding support during survivorship and how cancer care is changing to provide better support and care for trans and non-binary people.

Today, more medical institutions also have LGBTQ+ affinity groups within them, which are spaces for learning that can be a resource for advocacy. There are also a lot more online communities available to LGBTQ+ people with cancer. More research is being done now to have a greater understanding of how to care for transgender and non-binary people with dignity, respect, and humanity, though I would encourage even more research studies to be done. Right now, we are playing catch-up. There is a lack of research and resources around caring for transgender and non-binary people with cancer. We need more institutions to take the initiative and educate themselves so we can change the health care system to see all of us.

Read the full article here.