Oh, Canada! Top Canadian Cancer Charity Apologizes for Using Accurate Anatomical Terms

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

There was a time when most Americans considered Canada to be something of an appendage to the United States; "America Lite" was the term you often saw used. Canada and the United States share a lot; language (well, except Quebec), and much of our culture is very similar, especially in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. What's particularly noteworthy is that the United States and Canada have, for well over 200 years, shared a mutual 3,000-mile border that is completely demilitarized - and a second border between the Yukon Territory and Alaska. We have enjoyed peaceful relations with Canada throughout that time, which has to be some kind of record for human societies.

Things are changing in the Great White North, though, and not solely because of the government of Justin "Castro" Trudeau. Now, in another baffling bit of pandering to the hyper-sensitive and fact-challenged, a major Canadian cancer charity is apologizing for the use of the word "cervix" instead of "front hole." 

Yes, really.

The Canadian Cancer Society, which is run by philanthropist Andrea Seale, acknowledged the LGBTQ+ community on a webpage dedicated to cervical cancer, under the page's 'words matter' section. 

The non-profit said that 'many' non-binary people and transgender men have 'mixed feelings' or 'feel distanced' from the term cervix. 

'We recognize that many trans men and non-binary people may have mixed feelings about or feel distanced from words like "cervix",' the statement said. 

'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.' 

Wow. Just... wow. There's a lot wrong with that statement, so we may as well just dive in.

First: So "many" non-binary people and transgender men have "mixed feelings." So what? Cancer is a medical condition requiring medical treatment. "Cervix" is an anatomical term, not a political one. Women have them. Men don't. If we are to presume that by "transgender men," they mean women, then those people have a cervix.

Second: The accurate delivery of medical care means dealing with harsh realities. I've mentioned before our oldest daughter, who has worked in emergency medicine for almost 20 years. She has had to deal with these people, and her most common demand is, "I don't care how you identify, I need to know what parts you have." Hypersensitivity must not stand in the way of the delivery of health care.

Third: It's not a "hole." A cervix is a complex structure with a purpose. It is insulting to women to refer to a vital part of their anatomy by dismissing it as a "hole," implying that it is the absence of something, not the existence of something.

Fourth and finally: No, no man has ever had a cervix. 

These are facts.

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It gets worse. The Canadian Cancer Society continues:

'If you're a trans woman and have not had bottom surgery, you aren't at risk for cervical cancer,' the Canadian Cancer Society wrote in an article. 

'If, however, you’re a trans woman who has had bottom surgery to create a vagina (vaginoplasty) and possibly a cervix, there’s a very small risk that you can develop cancer in the tissues of your neo-vagina or neo-cervix.'

There is always some risk of cancer in any tissue at any time, although it's likely that unnecessary fiddling about with structures and hormonal balances will increase those odds. But no "bottom surgery" has ever produced a cervix, and none ever will. These surgeries produce crude facsimiles using tissues intended to serve other purposes, and the rate of complications is horrifying, cancer being one of the least among them.

These are facts.

Yes, words do matter - the accurate use of them matters. The Canadian Cancer Society is a charity that is supposedly concerned with the delivery of health care, in particular cancer treatments. This kind of prevaricating to a tiny, hyper-sensitive, and yet extremely vocal segment of the population is ridiculous. The delivery of health care is based on science, on an evaluation of the facts of each case, and an accurate diagnosis depends on an analytical assessment using accepted medical and anatomical terminology. "Front hole" is not accepted medical or anatomical terminology; it's not part of any reality involving the delivery of health care. The Canadian Cancer Society should be ashamed of themselves for this ridiculous pandering.


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