One of the greatest issues surrounding transgender equality and trans health is access to care. Trans men (F-M) often undergo hormone replacement therapy and reconstructive breast surgery, but it is crucial to remember that many (or most) transgender men have female reproductive organs, during their transition and throughout their lives.
Sex reassignment surgery is extremely expensive, not covered by health insurance, most likely geographically and surgically inaccessible – or even considered invasive and unnecessary by the individual. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) notes, “According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, nearly half (48%) of trans men reported postponing or avoiding preventive care out to fear of discrimination and disrespect.”
It is important that trans men have access to gynecological care, including annual pap and bimanual exams, regular breast exams, menstrual cycle check-ups, hormone replacement therapy, access to comprehensive counseling services, and more.
Last January, in honor of Cervical Awareness Month, the NCTE published a series of cervical health resources for trans men and genderqueer/gender nonforming people. One of the resources includes a link to the Canadian website CheckItOutGuys.com, which has a guide for providers, Tips to Providing Pap Exams for Trans Men.
Probably one of the most outspoken public advocates for trans men health is Buck Angel, transgender filmmaker, motivational speaker, educator, and advocate. Check out this short video he created to encourage trans men to make regular appointments for annual pap exams.
In Chicago, the Trans Greater Access Project, pioneered by the Chicago Women’s Health Center (CWHC), is an excellent resource for services and care. The Howard Brown Health Center also has a Transgender Health program. Both CWHC and Howard Brown have a sliding scale fee for services.
Another great way to build support and access to care is to go to appointments with a friend, whether the friend is trans or not. It is the hope that providers create safe and supportive environments for all of their clients, but in the case that an appointment does not feel that way, it might be helpful to have a friend and a co-advocate with you.
This blog post is Part 1 of 2. Next week The Naked Truth will focus on Trans Women (M-F) Health, Resources, and Access to Care.