Catholic Bishops Stopped My Surgery Because I’m Transgender

After years of working to affirm my identity in a world where transgender people are questioned constantly about their decisions, I felt hopeful as I arrived for the surgery I had waited so long for. I was 27, and I would finally be closer to calling my body home.

Since I was a kid, I’ve felt like my body didn’t match my soul. I felt uncomfortable in clothes. I felt disgusting when I showered. Everything felt wrong, but it took me a while to figure out why.

Once I discovered that I am a man, I went to my doctor to start the process of medically transitioning. I began taking testosterone. I had a double mastectomy. The next step was a hysterectomy.

My surgery was scheduled for Aug. 30, 2017, at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California. It’s the only hospital in the area, and I was so excited that my community offered transgender care. I could get the operation close to home and then recover with my loved ones.

I had a pre-op appointment on Aug. 24 that went smoothly, and I followed all the instructions to prepare for my surgery.

On Aug. 30, I arrived at the hospital and they checked me in and did the surgery prep, which was extremely uncomfortable and triggering. I was given a pink gown. I asked the nurse if I could have a blue gown, but she told me I was having a “female surgery” and should wear the pink. I felt like a child all over again, sitting uncomfortably in a pink dress. But I forced myself to do it, I had been waiting so long for this.

They hooked me up to an IV to get ready to put me to sleep. About an hour after waiting, my surgeon finally came to get me. But when I saw the look on his face, I got a terrible feeling. He told me my surgery was canceled. It was denied by the Catholic Church for ethical reasons. I didn’t understand how this could be happening. The Catholic bishops didn’t approve of my surgery. It seemed unreal.

I had an anxiety attack and thought about all the pre-op and mental preparedness I had to go through just to get here. I freaked out and started crying. I was given medication to calm me down.

Fifteen minutes after that, the hospital staff asked me to leave. I still had booties on my feet as a nurse led me outside. I felt humiliated and queasy as I sat on the curb waiting for my roommate to pick me up.

It seems the hospital does not understand how it feels to be treated inhumanely just because your body parts do not match your soul. This surgery was important — it was meant to balance my hormones. The delay disrupted my life. I felt like the hospital’s bigotry had set me back years.

Today, with the help of the ACLU, I filed a lawsuit. It’s unfair for St. Joseph to deny me care because I’m a transgender man. I should be able to go to the hospital where I live. Life in Humboldt County has been tough enough. Everyone thinks it’s a liberal place, but it’s not for trans people. I am regularly harassed and called names.

I didn’t expect discrimination from a hospital. The sting from the rejection remains, but I hope my story lets others know that this is unacceptable. And we should continue to fight until we are all treated fairly. No one should be denied health care because of who they are.

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Tired of stupidity

Get them ACLU. Why in the world could it almost get to surgery if this was an issue. Cut off all federal money for a start.


This is a heartbreaking story. Oliver, you should never have been put in such a humiliating and appalling situation.
I hope that you win your suit against the hospital!
With love!


The hospital advertises transgender care?


Thats horrible, hope this guy wins the case and adds another success to the transgender movement
You're not alone! At least one day you'll be able to talk of this setback as a critical moment in the history of transgender struggles, good luck!




It's the CATHOLIC CHURCH who's views on this are ridiculously clear to everyone. At what point did you think this would ACTUALLY go through at a Catholic Hospital? Also, why is this on the ACLU's radar? This is a clear case of religious freedom rights that has been affirmed multiple times by the Supreme Court.


Not if they get any federal funding. Further, the absolute right to religious beliefs does not guarantee a right to every religious practice; this is why Mormons had to give up on polygamy (and child brides).


Should have used a Muslim Hospital and not one run by Catholics.


My biggest question is, how does the church know anything that should be covered by HIPAA? Is the Bishop the assisting surgeon and if he is (he due to clergy only being male in the Catholic Church), His oath as a doctor would not allow him to have this discussion with anyone other than the patient.


Doctor patient right to private conversations might be protected by the confessional. The doctor goes into the the small chamber, the Bishop on the other side of the screen asks him to confess, and the doctor tells the Bishop all the details. There's something sacred.


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