A New York transgender man has revealed that his doctor didn’t tell him he had breast cancer because he was confused by his patient’s transgender status.
Jay Kallio, 56, transitioned from female to male at the age of 50. He has had hormone therapy but has not had surgical treatment.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, he said he saw a doctor about a suspicious lump in his breast but the doctor appeared bemused by the fact that his body did not match his apparent gender.
Mr Kallio said the doctor did not know whether to refer to him as male or female and crucially, did not tell him that the lump was cancerous. The patient says he found out the diagnosis “accidentally” from a lab technician. He also says the doctor was “hostile” and refused to tell him about treatments.
He said: “It delayed my care past the therapeutic window for chemotherapy. You should have chemotherapy within three months of cancer therapy. Because I had to change providers and kept encountering discrimination, it delayed the care. So much of cancer care has to do with early treatment.”
He added: “I kept hitting this stone wall of non-acceptance. “It’s a systemic problem. It was at all levels of providers, from doctors to housekeeping to the nursing staff. People need to be aware that this discrimination will not be tolerated.”
This week, it was revealed that a senior official with the Department of Health and Human Services told transgender rights groups that federal health programmes and companies receiving federal dollars are barred from discriminating against trans people.
In a July letter to trans groups, Leon Rodriguez, the director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, said that HHS considers discrimination based on “gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity” in federal health programmes or activities receiving funding under Affordable Care Act-covered programs to be illegal.