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Canadian Cancer Society apologizes for saying 'cervix' instead of 'front hole'

The organization included a note at the bottom of its website addressing transgender people to "recognize the limitations of the words we've used while also acknowledging the need for simplicity."

Joven con una bandera trans.


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The Canadian Cancer Society publicly apologized on its website for using the terms "cervix" and "cervical cancer," as these terms may offend transgender and non-binary people. Instead, it suggested the term "front hole" would be more appropriate, while asserting that "men can have these body parts too." After the controversy that arose, the organization published a statement on social media highlighting the importance of their work for people of all sexes, races and conditions using "plain language," while at the same time removed the "words matter" annex from its website to include its own definition of this type of cancer.

'Words matter'

The text, added to the bottom of the page intended to raise awareness about the need for screening for early detection of cervical cancer in "trans men or non-binary people assigned female at birth" read as follows:

We recognize that many trans men and non-binary people may have mixed feelings about or feel distanced from words like “cervix.” You may prefer other words, such as “front hole.” We recognize the limitations of the words we’ve used while also acknowledging the need for simplicity. Another reason we use words like “cervix” is to normalize the reality that men can have these body parts too.

Screenshot from the Canadian Cancer Society.'Trans, non-binary and gender diverse people face significant barriers to accessing healthcare'

Despite removing the wording, the Canadian Cancer Society maintains that "trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people face significant barriers to accessing healthcare and are less likely than cisgender people to be screened for cancer." This can be read on a page about cervical cancer screening in LGBTQ people, which justifies creating specific pages for these people. Currently, instead of the final annex, the SSC includes the concept "front hole" in the definition itself:

Anyone with a cervix can get cervical cancer. The cervix is at the top of the vagina. Some trans men may call the vagina the front hole. Almost all cervical cancer cases are due to HPV infection. HPV is spread through sexual contact including sexual intercourse, genital skin-to-skin contact and oral sex, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. If you are a trans man or non-binary person assigned female at birth, you may not get reminders to get screened for cervical cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about screening.