HRC & NCTE Call on CDC to Investigate Denial of Breast Cancer Screenings to Transgender Women

by HRC Staff

Colorado transgender woman denied life-saving mammogram

WASHINGTON – In response to news reports that an uninsured transgender woman in Colorado who found a lump in her breast was denied federally subsidized mammography based on federal guidance that she is "not genetically female,” the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate and change any discriminatory guidelines.

“Breast cancer screenings save lives and should be available to all women, period,” said Shane Snowdon, director of the HRC Health & Aging Program. “This policy isn’t simply discriminatory, it’s dangerous, and we hope our leaders at the CDC will address it immediately.”

"Excluding transgender women from a breast cancer screening program has no legitimate basis and flies in the face of accepted medical standards,” said Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE director of policy. “That is irrational discrimination, plain and simple. We hope and expect that the CDC will act swiftly to make clear that these programs must serve all women."

After being turned down for mammography by a federally funded program that provides free cancer screenings to low-income women, which cited CDC guidance in doing so, Jennifer Blair scraped together enough money to pay for a mammogram. She was relieved to discover she does not have breast cancer,  but her diagnosis came after a long period of fear and uncertainty. Hoping to spare other transgender woman what happened to her, Blair filed a complaint under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

HRC and NCTE sent a letter to the director of the CDC calling on the agency to revise any policies that exclude transgender women from lifesaving cancer screenings, which is inconsistent with well-established administrative precedent and the strong federal commitment to ending health disparities resulting from lack of access to care. 

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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