A transgender man is appealing a court decision that ruled in favor of a Catholic hospital which refused to administer a hysterectomy for his gender transition.
Evan Minton, 35, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lost their initial suit against Dignity Health’s Mercy San Juan Medical Center. Minton was scheduled for a hysterectomy but then abruptly refused care once he disclosed his identity as a transgender male. Hysterectomies as elective procedures are commonly accessible for cisgender women.
Elizabeth Gill, a senior staff attorney with the local ACLU chapter, told The Sacramento Bee:
“It is illegal for hospitals that are open to the general public in California to turn away patients simply because they are transgender. Everyone should be able to get the care they need, even if their local hospital has a religious affiliation.”
Gill also noted that the procedure for Minton was as necessary for his health as it is for cisgender women who are able to get hysterectomies at the Catholic hospital for non-life threatening conditions. Mercy San Juan Medical Center is one of twenty-six Catholic-affiliated hospitals in the Dignity Health Network, which is the fifth largest health system in the nation and the largest hospital provider in California.
According to the news story:
“The patient in this case, Evan Minton, had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition that results from a feeling of incongruence between one’s gender identity and one’s sex assigned at birth, according to a court filing dated April 19, 2017. Minton was assigned the sex of female [at birth], the lawsuit stated, but identified as a male as he developed.”
“Gill also noted there are widely accepted standards of care for treating gender dysphoria published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, saying the standards are recognized by leading medical organizations, the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, and federal courts.”
Minton was able to acquire his prescribed procedure at another, non-Catholic Dignity Health facility. The Sacramento Bee explained that Minton’s original suit lost in the San Francisco Superior Court because the “judge dismissed the lawsuit, agreeing the hospital followed the direction of California Supreme Court justices in rescheduling the procedure within 72 hours at a different facility.”
The court’s decision is being appealed because despite the case being dismissed, Gill said the lower court acknowledged that the hospital discriminated against Minton on the basis of his gender identity. Patient need, not religious identity of the institution, should determine whether care is provided, she said.
Outside the courts, there have been negative repercussions for Dignity Health because of its policies on LGBTQ, reproductive, and end of life care. Earlier this year, the University of California San Francisco announced it would not expand a relationship with the healthcare system after significant pushback from doctors, staff, and LGBTQ advocates, including Evan Minton. Controversies involving Catholic healthcare providers and LGBTQ patients are intensifying given both the rise in gender transitions and the growing public health impact of Catholic systems.
“For centuries, the Catholic Church’s healthcare work has had a particular focus on serving marginalized communities. Denying services to LGBTQ patients betrays this tradition and church teachings on non-discrimination, and is especially egregious given the many other problems transgender people face when trying to access competent and inclusive healthcare,” said Robert Shine, Associate Director of New Ways Ministry.
—Jocelyn Sideco, New Ways Ministry, September 18, 2019