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Transsexuals Can Now Get Free Mammograms

February 10, 2014
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Because of Jennifer Blair, transsexuals are now eligible for a federal program that provides free mammograms for low-income women.

When Blair, of Colorado, tried to get a free mammogram under the program last year, she met all of the requirements except one: she was not “genetically female.” During a recent interview with KUSA TV in Denver, she recalled the moment of being turned away:

When I was told that I didn’t qualify because I was transgender, that just really shook my foundations. I’m really no different than anybody else.

We reported last October on an earlier KUSA interview with Blair that first told her story. She had gender-reassignment surgery more than a decade ago, and her doctor was concerned about unusual breast growth. Blair takes hormones, a risk factor for breast cancer.

Denver lawyer Sarah Parady sued the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Blair’s behalf, alleging discrimination. “Trans women were coming in for breast cancer screenings because they needed it, and were being turned away,” Parady said.

Not surprisingly, the story exploded across the Internet. “I found it in newspapers as far away as the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe,” Blair said.

In December, a memo from Captain Jacqueline Miller, MD, announced that the CDC policy had changed and that “federal funds may be used to screen these transgender women” as long as they have taken or are taking hormones and meet the other eligibility requirements. Dr. Miller, a captain with the U.S. Public Health Service, is the medical director for the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

Since the original incident, Blair has learned that she does not have breast cancer. And her financial situation has improved, so she actually no longer qualifies for the free-mammogram program; she can afford to pay now.

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A woman is suing a Chicago hospital because, she says, she fell during a mammogram. She wants more than $50,000. For details, see our Facebook page.

Related CME seminar (up to 22.5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): UCSF Breast Imaging and Digital Mammography

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