Although national medical organizations often neglect to include trans and gender diverse (TGD) people in their breast and cervical cancer screening recommendations, the World Profession Association of Transgender Health recommends that TGD people who are at risk for these cancers follow existing guidelines for cisgender women. Despite WPATH's recommendations, TGD people are less likely to get screened in large part due to discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited access to cancer screenings among cisgender people, but it is unknown how this has impacted TGD people.
Using national survey data from the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS), we examined differences in cervical and breast cancer screening noncompliance across gender identity at two time points: before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Screening noncompliance increased during the COVID-19 pandemic among cisgender and TGD people (e.g., transgender men, gender non-conforming people). Compared to cisgender women, transgender men and gender non-conforming respondents had higher odds of breast cancer screening noncompliance before and during COVID-19. Transgender men had lower odds of cervical cancer screening noncompliance than cisgender women before COVID-19, but higher odds during the pandemic. Gender non-conforming respondents also had lower odds of cervical cancer screening noncompliance during COVID-19 compared to cisgender women.
Screening noncompliance for breast and cervical cancer was more common among TGD people than cisgender women; while these disparities existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were exacerbated during the pandemic. Future work should move beyond descriptive statistics and elucidate underlying causes to inform interventions.