As the title suggests, everything on this blog concerns violence against trans women.
The Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project is a trans feminist project addressing issues of systematic, institutional and interpersonal violence and oppression experienced by trans women (those who were coercively assigned male at birth and identify or are identified as women/female) across multiple identities (e.g., race, class, dis/ability, citizen-status, nationality, sexuality, age, HIV status, and form, status, or age of transition, etc.)
Ida Hammer is a writer and social justice communicator. She organizes the Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project. She presents workshops and trainings on cis privilege and being a trans ally. She's also involved in organizing against sexualized violence. She's a proud dyke-identified trans woman and an organizer of the New York City Dyke March.
Last week, Beth Scott won her battle to get her insurance carrier to cover her mammogram, after they refused to because she’s transgender. Scott’s doctor had recommended the screening, but when it comes to figuring out their actual risk of breast cancer, transgender women (and men) face a frustrating lack of information.
According to Dr. Maddie Deutsch, director of the transgender health program at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center the risk of breast cancer for trans women like Scott is relatively low. It’s likely “much lower,” she says, than the risk for cisgender (that is, non-trans) women. And trans men have surgery to remove their breasts, a small amount of breast tissue can remain, but the reduced amount translates to a significant reduction in risk.
However, she also noted that there’s a serious lack of research in this area. It’s not clear, for instance, whether developing breasts as part of gender transition actually raises a person’s cancer risk — that is, whether transgender women are more likely to get breast cancer than men who never grow breasts. Most funding for trans-related health issues has focused on HIV, mental health, or substance abuse — there’s been almost no research into general health concerns like breast cancer.
The reason, according to JoAnne Keatley, director of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF, is that people who control research money still think of transgender health as a political hot potato. So federal grants for trans health research aren’t available, and private donors shy away too. Keatley says, “there’s no private foundation that I’m aware of that is willing to provide money” to study breast cancer in trans women. A 1988 case study looked at one trans woman who developed cancer 10 years after her transition, and mentioned two previous cases, but according to Keatley, no large-scale research whatsoever into the incidence of breast cancer in transgender people has been done.
When trans men have surgery to remove their breasts, a small amount of breast tissue can remain, but the reduced amount translates to a significant reduction in risk. And Deutsch says there’s some evidence that the testosterone some trans men take can cause remaining breast tissue to “involute,” becoming smaller and less functional. This, she says, could further reduce the risk of cancer.
So while Beth Scott will get her mammogram, it may be some time before she and other transgender women know their true risk of contracting breast cancer.
A study conducted by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare has some alarming data regarding trans women who are refused breast implants: They’re more than 30 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
The study was recently cited by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL), which was condemning the board for the inconsistent way trans patients are treated in the country’s nationalized healthcare system.
“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” a statement by RFSL read. “Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases a very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life… Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives.”
RFSL reached out the Board after a trans woman was reportedly denied implants by hospital in western Sweden
While no similar study has been conducted in the States, a 2010 survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that 41% of all trans people in America have attempted suicide, as opposed to .3% of the general population.
A new study from the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL) concludes that breast implants are literally a life and death matter for transgender women who need the operation to “fit in as women in their everyday life.” And the suicide rate among those who don’t get them is at least 30 times higher than the average person.
According to Swedish website, The Local, RFSL warns that transgender women who are refused breast implants as a compliment to hormone treatment can suffer from a variety of psychological problems, resulting in an “alarmingly” high suicide rate.
Plastic surgery for transgender patients saves lives, according to RFSL. The study shows that psychological complications for those forced to live with a body that doesn’t match their gender identity is high and the suicide rate among patients denied breast implants is 30 to 40 percent, compared with only 1.6 percent for the general population.
RFSL petitioned the National Board of Health and Welfare to draw up national guidelines for physicians and hospitals trans breast implants, after a trans woman was reportedly denied implants by the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Alingsås in western Sweden. “RFSL demands that care for transgender people be given under the same conditions regardless of where one lives in Sweden,” the group wrote.
Transgender people in Sweden who are denied breast implants are more likely to commit suicide, according to an advocacy group which has urged health authorities to draw up national guidelines on the procedure.
“Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases an very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life,” the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) wrote in a petition to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
RFSL goes on to warn that transgender people who are refused breast implants as a compliment to hormone treatment and suffer from a variety of psychological problems, resulting in an “alarmingly” high suicide rate.
“Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives,” according to RFSL, citing the health board’s own findings statistics showing that the suicide rate among patients denied breast implants is 30 to 40 percent, compared with only 1.6 percent for the general population.
The advocacy group filed the petition with Swedish health authorities in response to reports that a transgender person was recently denied breast implants by a the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Alingsås in western Sweden.
According to RFSL, the hospital’s decision reveals inconsistencies in how transgender people are handled in the Swedish health system.
“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group of transgender people such as this transexual group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” RFSL wrote.
The organization now wants the health board to draw up national guidelines for dealing with requests by transgender people for breast implants.
In its petition, RFSL emphasized the importance of respecting “an individual’s value and right to decide over their identity”.
“RFSL demands that care for transgender people be given under the same conditions regardless of where one lives in Sweden,” the group wrote.