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

No amount of hormones taken by this person will ever convince me that this dude is a woman.

Anonymous

It doesn’t matter what you think. You can’t see gender (it’s not visible), and it’s not your business. Trans women ARE women.

Anonymous

You deserved One Million dollar, for the pain suffering they inflicted to you.

JoAnn Carver.

The pharmacist is just that. A pharmacist, not a doctor. I hope this company see this as a major disciplinary issue.
When I had my first prescription, the pharmacist asked in a similar manner if the doctor had made a mistake. I said “ no but you have. I should like to see the head pharmacist please”. She was there within seconds and I lifted my head up high and said “I am a transgender patient. My doctor is not an idiot neither am I. This man wanted to humiliate me. I’m not ashamed, but he should be.”
I did not raise my voice and it earned me a round of applause. One elderly lady gave me a hug and said “well done. I think you’re really brave. Good luck to you”
Stand up to bigotry and be proud.

Anonymous

Wrong you sick fuck! Even though CVS claims the pharmacist violated company policy, Arizona law states that pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill a prescription for moral or religious reasons so long as they inform their workplace about their “religious convictions” ahead of time, the Arizona Republic reported.

Anonymous

Nope! Even though CVS claims the pharmacist violated company policy, Arizona law states that pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill a prescription for moral or religious reasons so long as they inform their workplace about their “religious convictions” ahead of time, the Arizona Republic reported.

Kathy Dreher

Miss Hall, I hope you are comforted by the show of support from those of us who are not the least bit threatened by your truth. Best wishes to you going forward.

Anonymous

So a hardworking, well educated person lost their livelihood due to a deluded man with a sexual fetish. Instead of focusing on these men and their sexual fetish . . . consider the path of pain and destruction these men leave behind when they abandon their wives and children. No one ever acknowledges them. They use and destroy their own families . . . just to pursue a sexual fantasy of what they imagine a woman should be. Make no mistake, at heart they are nothing more than narcissistic, misogynistic abusive men.

Anonymous

So a hardworking, well educated person lost their livelihood due to a deluded man with a sexual fetish. Instead of focusing on these men and their sexual fetish . . . consider the path of pain and destruction these men leave behind when they abandon their wives and children. No one ever acknowledges them. They use and destroy their own families . . . just to pursue a sexual fantasy of what they imagine a woman should be. Make no mistake, at heart they are nothing more than narcissistic, misogynistic abusive men.

Anonymous

I work for CVS and we have a few people transitioning. In our store we are very respectful and private in regards to all patients, but especially those transitioning. One day I noticed we still had the person's previous name in the system. I asked if we could speak privately. I then explained the situation and asked if they would like me to change it. After a grateful yes, and a hug, all was as it should be.

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