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

you aren't confused. You're an ignorant tool.

Carolyn

Really... I assume you are being intentionally offensive or at best ignorant. You making up new words intentionally highlighting a duality that doesn't exist I find is at best unpleasant. And I get that what I am saying is about as productive as shouting into the wind but oh well. Reading the story it is rather clear that the person is a man who was assigned female at birth and has chosen to undergo medical procedures likely after extensive evaluation to correct the problems they face. This is not some whim or fantasy it is treating an issue they have been diagnosed with and had from birth. The how and why of it is not up for debate. But religious interference in important medical care should scare you. We don't always have a choice of the doctors and hospitals we go to and if you look around more and more are private and run by religious organizations. If this man came into this hospital's ER after being stabbed in a mugging would it be okay for the bishop to turn him away still bleeding? This is what was allowed recently. Just because you might not understand or care to understand this person and why they need what they need. Just because you feel it is unnatural doesn't give you or that bishop who finds it against his religious beliefs the right to override this man's own beliefs and stop the care that he needs.

Anonymous

Honestly, if you are using "Heshe" or "Shim," and thinking that you even have a clue about what the person is going through, please re-think how you want others to view your life, as I'm really looking forward to delivering a eulogy for you expounding on trying to make you seem normal so long as you view normal as being compared to mildew combined with lead poisoning.

Jake Tanner

You are utter GARBAGE for using such vile transphobic terms like "heshe" and "shim"...and I am being charitable by only calling you "garbage"...

Jagan Mohan

Did you really have to use useless words like 'Shim' and 'Heshe'? Those redundant words add no more clarity - your question makes sense without them.
They, however, make your entire question suspicious and frankly, a bit offensive.

Anonymous

Seeing as you only use this name to comment on ACLU lawsuit updates, I'm pretty sure you're a troll. Hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the patient's uterus. Transgender is not a verb. Those "pronouns" are a mess. Get outta here.

Adrien

Oliver is a man, but at birth he would have been assigned female.
Those terms aren't acceptable anymore (if they even ever were). Firstly, trans (transgender) people wouldn't gender themselves as their assigned gender at birth, they would gender themselves as what they identify with - what they are. Secondly, if you have to refer to the birth gender, the term FTM (Female to make) or its counterpart MTF (Male to female) tend to be preferred. The terms AFAB (Assigned female at birth) and AMAB (Assigned male at birth) are also sometimes used, although this is context dependant.

Sometimes, trans and more often nonbinary (people who aren't male or female) might use the phrase 'transfemme' or 'transmasc' to help explain that sort of info/ how they present or perhaps to allude to a way in which they are medically transitioning (taking hormone blockers or hormones such as estrogen or testosterone, and/or having surgery to align their body with their gender identity) if they choose to do so.

'transgendering' isn't a word; you're probably looking for the term 'transitioning'. A trans person is transgender, and the process of presenting as /sometimes taking hormones/having surgery to align as their gender is called transitioning.

To reiterate, 'heshe' and 'shim' are bigoted terms and are unnaceptable to use. Hopefully this helped you understand a bit better.

Anonymous

Could you BE more offensive? Why are you even here?

Anonymous

Please refrain from using the terms heshe or shim. You might not realize how offensive it is, but it is.

Anonymous

Neither of those terms are OK to use. They are both offensive. And transgender is not a verb. The author is a man who was assigned female at birth, also known as just a man.

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