Ministers pledge to end trans discrimination in NHS screening programmes to stop women who identify as men missing life-saving checks
- Women who identify as men are not invited for cervical or breast screening
- Yet men who identify as women get invites to both – despite not having a cervix
- Public Health Minister Steve Brine told MPs he wanted to address the matter
Ministers have vowed to end ‘trans discrimination’ in NHS screening programmes which has left women who identify as men missing out on potentially life-saving checks.
At the moment, women who identify as men are not invited for routine cervical or breast screening.
Yet men who identify as women are asked to attend both programmes, despite not having a cervix.
At the moment, women who identify as men are not invited for routine NHS cervical or breast screening. Yet men who identify as women are asked to attend both programmes, despite not having a cervix
Public Health Minister Steve Brine told MPs he wanted to address the matter so that ‘trans’ patients born as women are not excluded from screening.
He said: ‘Obviously its tiny numbers but they shouldn’t be discriminated against – and I am damn well determined they won’t be.’
Public Health England guidance currently means that trans people who register with their GP as their birth sex are invited to screenings appropriate to that gender.
However, if they register as they gender they identify as, they will not be.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR BREAST CANCER SCREENING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
What is breast cancer screening?
Screening is a procedure which allows doctors to catch breast cancer while it is still in its infancy and therefore easier to treat.
It involves an X-ray test – known as a mammogram – to check for signs of cancer which are too small to see or feel.
The results of the mammogram will be sent to the women and her GP within two weeks. Around 5 per cent will be called back for further tests.
Who is eligible?
Any woman concerned that they might have breast cancer can see their GP and be referred for a screening.
But in recognition that the risk of getting breast cancer increases with age, all women aged between 50 and 70 who are registered with a GP should automatically be invited for screening every three years.
Women are first invited for screening between their 50th and 53rd birthday, although in some areas they are invited from age 47 as part of a trial.
How are they invited?
The screening process is overseen by Public Health England, which uses an IT system to send out invitations.
It means a trans man, born female but registered as male, will not be invited for either routine cervical or breast screening, putting them at greater risk of the disease being missed.
Speaking at the Health Select Committee, Mr Brine suggested the system, whereby screening invitations were automatically sent by computer and based on the patients’ registered age and sex, needed to change.
The pledge comes after Cancer Research UK cut the word ‘women’ from a smear test campaign to avoid excluding transgender men.
The charity had been urging women aged between 25 and 64 to get screened but last year vowed to target ‘everyone with a cervix’ instead to be more inclusive.
In 2017, the British Medical Association suggested pregnant women should not be called ‘expectant mothers’ amid fears it could upset transgender people.
Cervical cancer affects 3,200 women a year in Britain, and kills around 900.
Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are asked to attend every five years.
Breast screening is currently offered to women aged 50 to their 71st birthday in England.
If the regular tests spot pre-cancerous cells, these can be treated before they develop into tumours that can spread throughout the body.
The NHS says that women, as well as trans men who have not had a total hysterectomy, should go for routine screening.