I was nervous to get my first cervical screening after publicly identifying as a trans man.

Not everyone with a cervix is a woman; not all women have a cervix. This distinction is important.

June 13th 2023.

I was nervous to get my first cervical screening after publicly identifying as a trans man.
It was Pride Month 2023, and as members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrated their identities, accomplishments, and reflecting on the struggle for equality, The Agency explored the theme of family.
London headliner Adam Lambert insisted this year’s Pride has ‘more important meaning’, and the coverage of issues such as ‘How can I talk to my child about my new partner after coming out?’ and ‘We're from countries where being gay is illegal - here's why UK Pride is so important’ made it clear that there is still progress to be made.
Attendance for cervical smear tests is on the decline again. Fewer people are booking the appointments they’re advised to attend every three to five years, and this is partly due to the gendered language surrounding the test.
When I was female presenting, I too found booking a smear off-putting, largely due to social anxiety. And when I came out as a trans man, the prospect of being expected to bare my vulva was daunting enough.
I worried that I could have a healthcare provider who felt that my identity wasn’t valid, and that my presence in that examination room could be negated. I had to show up to this test emotionally naked too, because I was afraid that my hairy legs and bound chest would raise questions about what the nurse was supposed to be looking at.
But I knew I should go. It was important, beyond peace of mind over my risk of cervical cancer. Having a vagina doesn’t make me less of a man, and I wanted to make a statement that I could exist there, and that my identity isn’t negated by the NHS care I need and deserve.
When I turned up to my appointment, the nurse sat opposite me and reeled off a memorised script about screening ‘women’ for human papillomavirus. I suppressed a cringe at the gendered terminology and thought about correcting it, but I let the moment pass.
I was relieved to find that the smear went smoothly, and my results came back clear. But I wish I had gone earlier, as I’m not the only one delaying getting tested.
64% of survey participants in the East of England reported that they felt nervous at putting themselves in a physically and emotionally vulnerable position, and alternatives such as private cancer test provider Check4Cancer come at a cost that many can’t afford.
Assuring more people will get tested, without alienating those who are frightened or uncertain about going to their GP, means making at-home testing a free service. The NHS participated in trialling a free, at-home swab test in 2021, but the trial itself doesn’t hold any guarantee of this option becoming an established norm.
Although I managed to muster up the courage to get tested in the end, it took effort and a year of it hanging over me. If the appointment had been taken out of the equation, I’d have had nothing to fear from the test itself.
And neither would many others like myself, who shouldn’t have to steel themselves just to show up for their own health.
I only wished I’d been more courageous about it and had stepped forward as a trans man getting his screening. But that was what stopped me getting checked in the first place – the feeling that I needed to be brave at every step.

[This article has been trending online recently and has been generated with AI. Your feed is customized.]