October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and important time to raise awareness and encourage prevention. However, it's time that this awareness month becomes more inclusive.
Breast cancer doesn't affect just women
Breast cancer is most commonly associated with women, with one in eight women developing invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. But women aren't the only ones who suffer from breast cancer. There are other folks, who are nonbinary and trans, who also suffer from breast cancer. And, it's worth noting that men also suffer from breast cancer.
Not everyone uses the term "breast"
Not all folks refer to their chest area as breasts. There are many trans and nonbinary folks who prefer a different term, like chest. Sometimes, referring to a trans or nonbinary person's chest area as breasts, or using the term breast cancer, can be triggering and cause dysphoria. As such, we need to rethink how we talk about breast cancer and breast cancer awareness.
The problem with a women-focused breast cancer campaign
Women have the highest rates of breast cancer. So it's no surprise that many awareness and fundraising campaigns are tailored to women and have a very feminine marketing plan. For example, a pink ribbon is a popular symbol used to represent the breast cancer awareness campaign. Or, another campaign, "Save the Tatas," is very much directed toward individuals who identify as having breasts.
The problem with breast cancer campaigns being so gendered to women, is that it excludes other individuals who do not identify as female or feminine. This can leave folks feeling dysphoric, triggered, and unseen.
A lack of resources & support
With breast cancer being so gendered and focused on women, it can exclude trans and nonbinary folks from the conversation. These individuals may not be getting the resources and support they need in order to properly prevent or learn about breast cancer. Without proper knowledge and access to inclusive services, trans and nonbinary individuals who are at risk or have breast cancer are left behind.
Taking care of your health
Individuals of all ages are encouraged to do a self exam of their chest area once a month for any signs of cancer of abnormalities. A medical provider can also perform the exam for you during an annual physical or by request. For folks age 50 and over, mammograms are recommended once a year. If your family has a history of breast cancer, let your medical provider know. You can learn how to do a self check exam here.
How Apicha CHC can help you
At Apicha CHC, we offer inclusive medical and non-medical services for everyone. Our trans health clinic helps provide trans and nonbinary individuals with much-needed services in a welcoming and gender-affirming environment. In addition, we provide referrals for mammograms.