Last Updated on July 17, 2020
A National Health Service informational booklet on cervical cancer caused controversy over its failure to use the word “woman.”
Following online debate about the topic that led the major United Kingdom charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to reject the previously agreed upon idea that only women can have a cervix, the use of inclusive language in support of those transgender and non-binary individuals who may have a cervix has become a hot topic.
After this controversy, the NHS distributed a leaflet promoting cervical smear tests that failed to mention women, instead focusing exclusively on female-to-male transgendered men. The NHS leaflet, titled “Who we invite,” neglected to use use the word “woman” in detailing how assistance for treatment could be acquired.
The leaflet reportedly read, “If you are a transgender (trans) man registered with your GP as a female, we will send you invitations for cervical screening.”
“If you are registered as male you will not receive invitations, but your GP or practice nurse can arrange an appointment for you if you have a cervix. If you are a trans woman you do not need a cervical screening,” it continued.
The leaflet has since been corrected, adding “Cervical screening is for women and people with a cervix.”
The NHS website for cervical cancer also contains the word “woman” as it explains, “Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina). It mainly affects sexually active women aged between 30 and 45.”
Other sections of the website refer to women directly.
Over the transgender and sex-specific illnesses such as cervical or prostate cancer, National File reported on a bizarre occurrence where the NHS invited transgender women–biological males–for cervical cancer smear tests.
National File reported:
Gender transitioning men, who identify as female, will be invited by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service to take tests for cervical cancer – despite not having a cervix.
Further, women who identify as male will not be offered routine anti-cancer check ups for their breasts and cervix.
National File also reported that Canadian Cancer page showed a male-to-female transgendered woman used as a model on a web page offering information about cervical cancer.