Magee Womens Hospital Breast Imaging Center

7 Nov

UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital
Breast Imaging Center, 3rd Floor
300 Halket St,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 641-4700

What type of services does the provider practice?        


Would you recommend this provider to others?              

Not if you are identifiable (visually, medically, legally, or otherwise) as transgender or visibly gender nonconforming. If you are a cisgender woman it may be fine

When was your last visit with the provider          

 0-5 months ago

Why did/do you see this provider?         

Current thyroid cancer, family history of breast cancer, obgyn wanted chest lumps imaged.

What was/is your experience making an appointment with this provider?           

Called The Office’s Scheduling and the person was nice and it was quick and painless.

Was/is the provider affordable?              

I have Medicare and Medicaid supplementation so I am covered but it is UPMC so you may not be.

Please describe your experience with the provider.       

I have doubted myself multiple times in analyzing this experience but have come to the conclusion that the experience was messed up. My bar for medical care as a trans person is not that high and I left this place feeling embarrassed and ashamed even when I did nothing wrong. I was already very anxious going to this appointment both because I was afraid my cancer had spread and because it was a gendered appointment and I am a transmasculine person who is read as male or very butch. Waiting rooms are always a mess but providers can make all the difference if they know what they are doing.

I was treated differently than all of the people there for imaging and not in a good way. Many of the men in the waiting room were staring at me without shame because they are rude- this is not the hospital’s fault but it was one of the worst gendered waiting room experiences I have had and it is relevant to the rest of the story. The front desk staff was nice to me.

When I was called back I asked to use the restroom and the nurse was visibly bothered by this request. The men’s restroom on the hospital floor was closed for renovations and the one on the floor below had the only stall taken. I have issues with walking far or standing for long, so I could not continue traveling the entire hospital trying to find a bathroom or I would miss my appointment. It was then I started to realize that these people were nervous having a trans person there for imaging and didn’t want the other people to see me.

Once she had me in the mammogram room, she spoke kindly to me and was good at the procedure. I do think she cared about making me comfortable. But, unlike everyone else who was given the chance to change into a robe in a private room, she just told me to undress. I am a person who does not swim without a shirt or really take my shirt off in front of anyone. So, I had to undress in front of her and just stand there for a while, as a trans person, shirtless with no robe. I have never had any medical professional do this (with the exception of pulling my shirt up for ECGs while laying down which is common) and everyone else in the place was wearing a robe.

After a very uncomfortable and awkward mammogram, I thought I would be walked back to the waiting area for imaging which is inside the center, stocked with a kitchen of snacks and drinks to make people waiting more comfortable. Instead, I was taken all the way out to the main waiting room again to do the walk of shame through all of the people wondering why someone like me was getting a mammogram. Again, this did not seem to happen with anyone else I saw and when I went with someone else in the past, none of these things happened with them. I told myself maybe it was just crowded, but this seemed to be a decision made to keep me separate from other patients.

They then brought me in again for my ultrasound, again had me undress in front of them but at least gave me a towel this time to cover myself. I had to wait for a while for the doctor to come in to do the ultrasound. She was again good at the procedure from what I could tell and good at diagnostics, but she was saying judgemental or inappropriate things about past surgeries or medical treatments (assuming everything in my medical history must be because I am trans and also showing ignorance about certain procedures) or asking irrelevant questions like what kind of trans surgeries I want in the future. Doctors do this to me a lot, it is always inappropriate, but this place already felt so uncomfortable it was worse.

When my lumps were found to be visibly benign (thankfully,) she told me to return when I am 40 because only people with higher risk and a family history need to come yearly. I reminded them again that my mother had breast cancer in her early 40s and that I currently have a thyroid cancer recurrence and I was told I AM higher risk. She responded with “oh well, if you’re sure about that age then…” Which seemed dismissive as it is all over my charts and all of the paperwork I filled out.

Trust me, I never want to come back again. Ever. But, I also don’t want (more) cancer. At this point, I am not going to go back in a year. I don’t want to experience this again even with my risk level.

The thing is, this is the longest review I have written on PHB and the only negative one. And it was hard to write because there are so many microaggressions- little things that add up that some people may not think matter. But, they matter. Especially when you are in a scared or vulnerable place in medicine. I don’t know if there is an alternative for trans people who breast/chest screening. I can’t guarantee that you going to another place will be any better even if your insurance allowed it. All I can say is consider bringing someone with you, practice advocating for your needs, and be prepared to possibly feel as if people are treating you like some sort of dangerous person that can’t be around cis women (I imagine trans women would not fare well here either unless they can pass as cis and being trans is not in their medical record.)

 Please describe your experience with the provider’s support staff (if applicable).            

See above.

What identities do you have?    

Queer, trans masculine (DFAB), often pass as gay guy or very butch woman, (mostly invisibly) disabled, mid-30s, average-ish? size with overweight-obese BMI, poverty line social security income, white.

Tell us if the provider or practice is especially good with a certain community, has special skills or services.           

It’s a women’s hospital but I don’t know which women that is limited to.

What can you share about this provider’s identities and/or the practice’s affiliations that may be important to their clients?               

The nurse and doctor were both white cis women of middle age I think.

What did you observe or experience about the accessibility of the practice?       

Magee Womens Hospital has handicapped spaces, mobility scooters, and valet parking (I can’t remember if that is free) and is about a block away from a Forbes Ave bus stop. Some bathrooms are closed for renovation. Some mens rooms have only one stall. Some doors are automated. It tends to have more security than other places because of the maternity ward. Can be more crowded than other hospitals sometimes.



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