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

While I'm no fan of the Catholic Church, why did the author go to a Catholic hospital for this procedure if Catholic values don't affirm transgenderism?

Anonymous

Perhaps because doctors’ oaths should supersede ignorant prejudicial religious superstition?

CL

As it says in the narrative, it is the only hospital in his area. This is getting to be a big problem in many areas of the US. Women are refused sterilization during a c-section by these catholic hospitals,although it's medically indicated; the women are not told until they're on the table. Thus they're forced to undergo a second operation in a different hospital.

Anonymous

The point being, LGBT have to go to a baker that is "willing" to bake them a celebration cake according to the SCOTUS decision, and so should LGBT go to a hospital that is willing to do a hysterectomy for them. And that's called religious freedom for Christians.

Shannon

I'm very surprised that an elective hysterectomy was going to be performed at all. As a cis woman, I've been denied one for years. It took me a decade to find a doctor willing to "tie my tubes," I finally was able to get it done in my 30s. I'm interested to see the reasoning by the hospital on this one and if they perform elective hysterectomy on other patients.

The bishop probably sits on the hospital board. They are the ones who make the decision for every controversial or Catholic-rule-breaking surgery. This includes, for example, a woman who was likely to die if the fetus was not removed from her body, but they refused because they do not perform abortion. That's clearly withholding critical health Care. If Catholic hospitals refuse to provide care that any other regional hospital would provide, then they should lose any given finding they may receive and emergency services should no longer consider them a viable option for transport. How can you bring a patient to a hospital who could refuse them care based on the hospital boards interpretation of the Bible?

Anonymous1

So the author believes that she has the right to compel a private business to perform a highly controversial elective procedure (which the business officially and for principled reasons believes is morally impermissible), and she proposes to use government muscle under threat of violence to assert her right. For liberty, I guess?

Anonymous

Sooooo.....did Oliver find another hospital to perform the surgery ?

Kate

I can relate to your story, but lets be honest here. You went to this hospital because it was a christian hospital. If your were in need of care that would be life saving and not just life affirming they would take you in and give the best care they can. When getting surgery I personally choose the best not the closest hospital, and certainly not one that not only isn't very good at what I need but doesn't want to do the type of elected surgery you are seeking. Please try to find a place where the staff is prepared for what ever might happen

B. Crane

It is a person's right to have the freedom of choice in many aspects of life. It is our country's commitment to citizens. For years we have been shielded by the medical and other communities from seeing the spectrum of human sexuality and other aspects of the huge variation within the human experience from birth on. This gentleman was born with a brain and viewpoint that said he was a male but his body did not match. The spectrum of mind concept and body conformity is wide. We have tomboys and very feminine girls and the same with boys. Some are further out on the spectrum and choose to match their body with their brain as they can't stand to be both. They should have the freedom to do this as adults. They should not be shamed or discriminated against. It is their right as adult citizens to make these choices. In this case, it is evident that his doctor agreed with him but the hospital did not. Catholic hospitals usually discriminate against women in regard to certain surgeries, but some for men, too, in the sexual area. His doctor should have known this. Eureka tends to be rather conservative actually even though some outlying areas might seem liberal. I'm not sure how far away he would have to go to find a hospital that would do this surgery.

We don't have to be upset if a person wants to meet a need we don't have or is a surprise to us, it is their right. The huge differences in the physical and mental make up of people are tremendous. If we were introduced to all of them, we would be further shocked and amazed. Let's love and accept each other. No one has it totally easy in life but some have problems beyond what we can imagine.

Anonymous

The word catholic means universal; all-embracing, indiscriminate, diversified, eclectic, broad or wide-ranging in tastes.
It's just when you use the word 'faith' after it, then it becomes a narrow, constrained, bigoted, non-heretical, holy, and beyond reproach for mere man.

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