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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Anonymous

Well I mean, it's not like this is "care" in a sense. That would imply that it would heal the disorder at hand. When considering it's impossible to change your sex, and trying to is pretty mutilitive, I can understand why the surgery would be canceled. This has nothing to do with discrimination.

badger

Good grief. I can't imagine how devastated you must have felt. I'm so sorry this happened to you, and I truly hope the ACLU not only wins the lawsuit, but also brings this hospital's medieval mindsets into public scrutiny. You'd think the Catholic Church would have better things to do than stop one person from living their life authentically as who they were meant to be, which isn't hurting anyone. You need a medical procedure, and it was approved. Church opinion shouldn't even enter into the equation. The hospital staff acted just as badly, too, insisting on a pink gown? How childish and utterly lacking in empathy is that? The lack of professionalism, common courtesy and basic human decency in this entire organization is appalling to me. When this goes before a judge, I hope some retraining is involved for the entire medical staff, because they certainly are in desperate need of it.

Reason Pope

How did the bishop gain access to the medical records, how was he "alerted" to this particular surgery? Did the bishop have a "need" for that information? Does he "approve all hystorectomies?" Paw through the records of every "female" surgery, just to he sure his religious tenents are properly honored?

IOW, who disclosed this man's medical information in a non-HIPPA fashion to a religious authority, initiating the harm ultimately done this man by use of that information to enforce "religious law"?

I assume the facility is the beneficiary of public funds at the same time it claims public benefits of both a religion and IRS exemptions. It needs to make up its mind as to what type of an institution it actually is, because a real hospital should stand in that location.

AnonymouS

I'm sure this will all come out in the court proceedings. I'm more interested in the pretrial discovery of the Bishop's role in medical decisions that he assumes fall under his spiritual authority. Will the Bishop defer to the Catholic Church doctrine for the criteria needed to make this decision? Will Scripture be used in testimony to prove the Catholic point of view? If this somehow gets to the SCOTUS, will all the Catholic judges sitting on the bench have to recuse themselves because of their bias for Catholic authority? This is going to be interesting. And who's going to give the devil's advocate position in actual testimony before the court?

Anonymous

PRIVATE hospitals do not take public funds

Anonymous

Someone's got an entitlement problem. I don't go to a Muslim restaurant and demand bacon. This was not a life or death surgery, completely optional.

Arca D

Why do catholic nazis care what a hospital does? That is a denial of human rights, what they did. I get so sick of this... religious freaks like that discriminate all the time claiming "religious freedom" or some such nonsense... but they cry foul when someone calls them out on it.
I hope you sue them into the ground and have their titles revoked. The time to play nice with these fanatics is long over.

Anonymous

Gloria that comment is just ignorant and offensive.

Ms. Gloria Anasyrma

Keep in mind that I am not the one refusing the person medical care. I really don't care what transgender people do. "If people get so upset over what some jerk says on the internet, they are the ones that have a problem": Steve Jobs circa 2007.

Anonymous

The Church didn't refuse the surgery because he is transgender. They refused it because removing a perfectly good uterus results in sterilization - a form of birth control, which is against the teachings of the Church. Weather the young man is Catholic or not doesn't matter. It's a Catholic hospital.

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