Everything’s a Fight: A Qualitative Study of the Cancer Survivorship Experiences of Transgender and Gender Diverse Australians


Transgender and gender diversity (TGD) are terms that describe people whose gender differs from their biological sex assigned at birth. It is estimated that up to 2% of the population are a gender other than cisgender male or female (Goodman et al. 2019, cited in Karolina et al., 2023). Research has identified TGD people to be at risk of inferior cancer and survivorship outcomes. Still, post-treatment survivorship experiences of transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people gather little information. Based on this, a qualitative study was carried out to explore the survivorship experiences of people who identify as TGD, focusing on the physical and psychological aspects of the post-treatment survivorship phase and their experiences of follow-up cancer care. The study had 10 participants, between 18 and 60 years old, who have completed the treatment. The pool includes diverse cancer diagnoses and gender identities.

The data collected generated 6 main themes. TGD people reported (1) anxiety when attending appointments and avoidance of necessary follow-up care, (2) experiences of transphobia and discrimination within oncology care settings and (3) lack of consideration of TGD identity by providers. Themes further describe (4) unique situations highlighted regarding the physical aspects of being both TGD and a cancer survivor, (5) the absence of inclusive and diverse supportive care resources, and (6) positive growth after cancer.

The authors emphasize the following suggestions to mitigate discrimination: training in TGD health for healthcare providers, inclusion of TGD health in medical and nursing curricula, processes to collect and use gender identity and preferred pronoun data in clinical settings, and development of TGD-inclusive information and peer-support resources.