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31 Gender and sexuality diverse (GSD) women’s experiences of cancer and cancer care
  1. S Sperring,
  2. K Allison,
  3. R Power,
  4. C Ellis,
  5. J Ussher,
  6. J Perz,
  7. A Hawkey
  1. Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia


Background This paper will present the preliminary findings of research into gender and sexuality diverse (GSD) women’s experiences of cancer and cancer care, as part of a broader ARC funded project titled ‘Out with Cancer’. LGBTQI+ communities experience a disproportionate cancer burden, and face unique psychosocial challenges, such as higher rates of cancer related distress and sexual concerns, lower levels of family support, difficulties in accessing general health care or cancer services, gaps in patient-provider communication and lower satisfaction with cancer care. There is a need for research to focus on understudied LGBTQI+ cancer survivors, including GSD women. To date, research on sexual and gender minority women with cancer has focused almost exclusively on the experiences of cisgender lesbians with breast cancer. Non-normative relationships with femininity and categories of womanhood and gender performance have been shown to significantly affect how GSD women experience and make sense of cancer. However, work in the area of cancer and sexuality largely tends to assume cisgender embodiment, identity and expression. There are few studies available that specifically address trans and gender nonconforming women’s experiences of cancer care.

Methods The research takes a mixed methods approach, including: open-ended survey data, 38 semi-structured interviews, and 15 follow-up Photovoice interviews with GSD women who have had cancer and their carers. Participants are selected across cancer type, and range from ages 18–92. Data is analysed using thematic decomposition analysis.

Results While data collection is on-going, this paper will focus on some key emergent themes amongst GSD women with cancer and their carers, including: heterosexism in cancer care; the impact of health care provider and health setting interactions on experiences of gendered embodiment; and ideal services and support.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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