My Pharmacist Humiliated Me When He Refused to Fill My Hormone Prescription

(Update 7/20/2018: Hilde appreciates that CVS took her experience seriously. She spoke with a CVS representative who offered a sincere apology on behalf the company and said that the pharmacist who mistreated Hilde acted outside of the company’s guidelines. Hilde hopes that CVS will make its nondiscrimination policies public, so that transgender and non-binary customers have some assurance the corporation will take appropriate action if similar discrimination occurs in the future.)

On a recent day in April, I left my doctor’s office elated. I was carrying my first prescriptions for hormone therapy. I was finally going to start seeing my body reflect my gender identity and the woman I’ve always known myself to be.

I went straight from my doctor to the CVS in my town, Fountain Hills, Arizona, which is a suburb of Phoenix. I handed over the three prescriptions that my doctor, who specializes in hormone therapy, had just given me.

That’s when my day took a turn. After years of working to affirm my identity in a world where transgender people are questioned constantly about how well they know themselves, the pharmacist refused to fill one of the prescriptions needed to affirm my identity.

He did not give me a clear reason for the refusal. He just kept asking, loudly and in front of other CVS staff and customers, why I was given the prescriptions.

Embarrassed and distressed, I nearly started crying in the middle of the store. I didn’t want to answer why I had been prescribed this hormone therapy combination by my doctor. I felt like the pharmacist was trying to out me as transgender in front of strangers. I just froze and worked on holding back the tears.

When I asked for my doctor’s prescription note, the pharmacist refused to give it back, so I was not even able to take it to another pharmacy to have my prescription filled. I left the store feeling mortified.

When I got home, I called my doctor’s office to explain what happened. The office staff tried to intervene by calling the pharmacist, but he still refused to fill my prescription without explicitly explaining why. My doctor ended up having to call the prescription into the local Walgreens, where the medication was filled without question. I transferred all of my prescriptions there so that I never again have to see the pharmacist who discriminated against me.

I have contacted CVS’ corporate complaint line multiple times, but no one has addressed my concerns or offered me an apology.

Tell CVS: Transgender Customers Need Their Prescriptions, Too

My family supports me, fortunately, and helped me work through the anger and humiliation this experience caused. But many other transgender people are not as fortunate as I am. I don’t want to think about what might happen if this pharmacist mistreats a transgender person who does not have a good social support system.

Today, I filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy and am publicly asking CVS to take action and apologize for the way I was treated. CVS has received perfect marks for the past four years in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which is a valuable tool for assessing corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees. But something is still not right. Measures should be in place to ensure no other customer is humiliated like I was.

Through training and written policies, the company needs to make it clear to their employees — especially their pharmacists — that transgender customers deserve respect. No healthcare worker should rely on personal beliefs to reject decisions made by doctors and their transgender patients about medically necessary care.

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Anonymous

What about HIPPA? While it doesn't help make the point of her identity playing into his actions. The same laws that protect me from a pharmacist telling everyone I'm getting treatment for an STD for example, are the same laws the protect her from his words related to why she's receiving hormone therapy. While I understand the need to ensure safety for everyone, we have laws that can be enforced to protect her from his words. Put the focus on new laws that help ensure service for everyone so we as a country can stop making the news for our right to refuse service. The entire community could rally behind that one and have a more meaningful and lasting impact

Anonymous

I agree, the pharmacist should loose his license for violating it.

Anonymous

Yeah this is a blatant and clear violation of HIPAA. Pharmacists in most states are unfortunately still allowed to "conscientiously object" to filling a script, but CVS (and walgreens, and most other retail pharmacies) are expected to quietly have another pharmacist handle the script if this is the case.

Anonymous

HIPAA

Anonymous

He clearly violated her rights! His actions weren’t professional in any form of the word. I am part of the pharmacy world and have spent the last thirty years taking care of my customers like they were family members. He had no right to keep her prescription, nor did he have a right to perform an inquisition in front of everyone. There is a private consultation area that is to be utilized in situations like this. This pharmacist action deserve the fines and jail time involved with such aggressive behavior towards a person. I cannot say customer, client, or patient, because he did not even treat her with any of compassion involved with the relationship involved any of those titles.

Anonymous

Whoever said this pharmacist needs JAIL TIME for this is a fucking joke. JAIL? You’d put someone in JAIL for this? You have no idea about life clearly if you’d put someone thru jail for this.... go protest you loser

Anonymous

What about the rights of the pharmacist? Oh right, None of you mentally ill people care about that. The policy of a company takes a back seat the law of the state, states law takes a back seat to federal law. The pharmacist had the constitutional right to refuse to help this MAN, The MAN also could have asked for another employee to finish the TRANSaction. Transgenders are nothing more then a group of faggots acting like the actually have gender dysphoria, Most of the time they don't. Gender dysphoria is an actual genetic abnormality that has biological manifestations, Such manifestations are easily identified, Most of the time they are not present in these attention seeking faggots.

Anonymous

Good work Hilde, sorry that people can be so little.

Debbie Beardslee

Appalling. That pharmacist should be fired immediately. I won't shop at CVS anymore.

Anonymous

Grow up bitch!

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