June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate diversity and advocate for the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals. BC Cancer is committed to providing inclusive and equitable care for all patients. As part of understanding the lived experience of 2SLGBTQIA+ patients and the importance of providing culturally safe and gender-affirming cancer care, BC Cancer has the privilege of sharing the experiences and insights of "J," a member of BC Cancer's working group on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE). J's journey as a 2SLGBTQIA+ individual receiving care at BC Cancer sheds light on the importance of understanding, respect, and inclusivity within cancer care settings.
Pride is both a celebration and a protest. It is celebrating myself and the people who took the effort and time to understand who you are, and advocate on your behalf. It is recognizing and acknowledging the works of people who galvanized the way to respecting and upholding human rights. It is engaging, collaborating, and sharing to be understood, to be respected and to be given a fair treatment in all the aspects of human life.
I joined the SOGIE group in early 2019 because I felt there were a number of issues and inequities in the cancer care system that I wanted to help address. I wanted to share my experience as a member of the LGBTQ++ community who are often marginalized. It was important to me to represent those who will face a challenging medical journey and do not feel that they have a voice.
I felt that sharing my lived experience to the SOGIE committee would allow it to reach a broader audience and help initiate positive changes.
In some ways it was positive and in other ways there were clear opportunities for improvement. I received care from some clinicians who were very proactive and supportive of my trans-cancer journey, and generously advocated on my behalf.
However, there have been a mix of positive and negative encounters. Through the course of my tests and treatments, it became harder to self-advocate under the weight of my diagnosis and treatments. I found there was a lot of misunderstanding of trans- and non-binary people; especially in the medical field.
What could be seen as small language changes has the potential to create a big impact. For example; calling patients by their preferred name rather than their birth name. I was called by my birth name a number of times despite informing staff of my name and asking for it to be changed in my medical records. Using terms like spouse instead of wife or saying undergarment instead of bra, would go a long way to making patients like me feel more supported and safe.
I also found some documents and reports unintentionally categorized my identity as a comorbidity, this has the potential to perpetuate negative perceptions of trans- and non-binary individuals.
I strongly recommend continuous evaluation and assessment of SOGIE-related procedures and use of inclusive language as an integral part of everyday operations in all departments to foster an environment of respect and understanding. I think management support is crucial for timely implementation of changes too.
Regular training sessions on non-binary and trans awareness should be provided to instill knowledge and empathy. Staff and clinicians who have made strides in creating gender-inclusive practices should be recognized as they serve as inspiring examples for others to replicate.
BC Cancer is committed to delivering compassionate and equitable care to all patients, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. J's experiences highlight the importance of an inclusive health care environment where individuals can receive the support they need during their cancer journey.
By actively addressing the concerns raised by patients like J, BC Cancer can continue to improve on delivering culturally safe, gender-affirming and person-centered cancer care to 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals; ensure Pride is celebrated year-round through inclusive and understanding health care practices.
Patients who would like more information about
Safer Space, can visit the BC Cancer website or can visit