Coming Out as Transgender to Your Breast Cancer Care Team

Updated 
March 2, 2015
Reviewed By: 
Heather Sheaffer, DSW, LCSW

When seeking treatment for breast cancer, it is best to make your cancer care team aware of your gender identity and your transition.

Discussing your use of hormoneinfo-icon replacement therapies and the details of your transition allows your health care providers to offer you the most comprehensive and informed care choices.

Talking about your transition may help because:

  • Some breast cancers can grow in the presence of estrogeninfo-icon. If your doctor is aware of the use of estrogen as part of your hormone replacement therapyinfo-icon regimeninfo-icon he or she can give you more information about how treatment may impact HRT.
  • Talking about your gender identity may help your cancer care team to use the name and pronoun you prefer. . For example, if you have not legally changed your name, the name on your medical record may not match the name you wish to be called. Communicating your preferences and your expectations to your health care providers is key in your cancer care.

 

Your Doctor’s Reaction

Respect is a vitalinfo-icon part of the healing process and though you may take steps to be open and clear about your gender identity and transition, your doctor may not react in a sensitive way. If you feel uncomfortable with the reaction of any member of your cancer care team, speak up. If your concerns are not met to your satisfaction, switching providers may be a next step.

There are LGBT-friendly healthcare providers available in many places. It’s OK to ask tough questions before your first appointment to be assured that the doctor you see will be open and professional when it comes to your gender identity. If you think that a provider is unfair or disrespectful, move on to the next physicianinfo-icon on your list.

Locating a Trans-Friendly Healthcare Provider

The Internet is a great way to identify and choose a doctor. Locate doctors that are not only experts in the treatment of breast cancer, but are also open to the needs of the LGBT community. One great resource is the Human Rights Campaign’s “Healthcare Equality Index”. In it and other guides like it, you will find a comprehensive list of doctors and healthcare facilities that are ranked in their sensitivity to the needs of patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Accordion: Resources

Coming Out to Your Doctor by the Human Rights Campaign

Center of Excellence for Transgender Health

Primary Care Protocol for Transgender Patient Care

Do Ask, Do Tell: Talking to your healthcare provider about being LGBT by LGBTHealthEducation.org