This Thursday and Saturday, BreastScreen Victoria is providing free LGBTI specific mammogram sessions to women and trans and gender diverse people over the age of 40, as part of their ‘Rainbow Rose’ screening sessions.
More than 75 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over 50 and regular breast screens are the best way to find breast cancer early. People aged 50 to 74 should be screened every two years.
The Rainbow Rose sessions generally take ten minutes. The appointments are free, with no referral or Medicare card required, and are conducted by a woman.
BreastScreen Victoria research from 2017 found that trans and gender diverse people can feel uncomfortable accessing screening services due to fear of being misgendered or experiencing transphobia, not knowing about their screening eligibility and concern that the test will cause gender dysphoria or anxiety.
“We understand that sexuality and gender diverse people are under-screened for breast cancer, and experience unique barriers to participating in screening,” BreastScreen Victoria’s CEO Vicki Pridemore said, “As part of our continuous quality improvement and our work with the LGBTI Community, we want to address these barriers and ensure that everyone accessing our services is treated with dignity and respect.”
BreastScreen Victoria is the first screening program in Australia to be recognised by Rainbow Tick, the national accreditation program developed by Rainbow Health Victoria for safe and inclusive practice, and service delivery for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
“The barriers for breast screenings are different for people who are sexuality diverse and gender diverse,” BreastScreen Victoria’s Diversity and Inclusion Project Manager Ashleigh Sternes told Star Observer.“With transphobia and fear of misgendering and embarrassment being real issues and cause of serious anxiety.”
“People have shared concerns of having to come out in the process or dealing with staff lack of knowledge, or even taking their same sex partner along to your appointment as a support person and someone makes the assumption that your there with a friend instead of partners.”
These screenings, held at BreastScreen Victoria’s Rose Clinic, create a space where all are welcome regardless of their gender identity or sexuality to come get a breast screening, provided they fit certain criteria.
“A mammogram is essentially an x-ray of breast tissue. That’s it – you are in and out in ten minutes,” Sternes told us, “If you have implants or have a disability we usually book a 20 minute appointment, just in case we need the extra time to take additional images to make sure we are getting all of the breast tissue or if you are having mobility issues.
Bookings are essential, with the two sessions will be held on Thursday November 14th from 6-8pm and Saturday 16th from 11am-2pm at BreastScreen Victoria’s Rose Clinic, Level 3 at the David Jones Women’s Store, 310 Bourke Street.