Seven months after a California hospital refused to perform a hysterectomy on a transgender patient, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is intervening on his behalf with a lawsuit filed in the San Francisco Superior Court. Back in 2016, the plaintiff was denied transition surgery at Dignity Health Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Sacramento, California, a day before the procedure was scheduled to take place.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit alleging that the faith-based hospital, Mercy San Juan, discriminated against the plaintiff in preventing him from getting surgery as part of his transition from female to male. At the time of Mercy’s denial of the transition surgery, the hospital cited an anti-sterilization policy based upon religious guidelines issued after the 2009 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dignity Health is affiliated with the Catholic church, but not all the hospitals under them are required to adhere to Catholic doctrine.
The ACLU claims the lawsuit is necessary now more than ever, as they believe legal protections for LGBT Americans are under attack. Senior attorney for the ACLU’s northern California branch calls Mercy’s refusal to perform the hysterectomy a, “clear cut case of discrimination.” She calls the refusal of surgery a violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s age, religion, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status.
Dignity Health representatives refused to comment specifically on the ACLU lawsuit, but did say in a public statement that the services they provide are available to everyone “without discrimination.” However, they also say that they do not perform “elective sterilizations” at their Catholic facilities in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
In 2015, a group of 10 different religious groups united to voice their opposition to the inclusion of gender identity in federal anti-discrimination laws. In a letter directed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, religious groups denied that procedures conducted with the purpose of altering one’s genders should be considered health care, under the law. They expressed that they feel such procedures to be detrimental to patients as they are not performed to prevent, cure, or treat disease or illness.
As for the plaintiff in the ACLU’s suit, he ultimately obtained a hysterectomy at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento. It is one of several procedures he has undergone throughout his transition from female to male. The state Supreme Court decision on this case will surely have wide-reaching implications on the discussion of religious freedom and civil rights.
Middletown Transgender Discrimination Lawyers McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate for Transgender Victims of Discrimination
The law protects LGBT people from discrimination based on their sexuality or gender identity. Middletown transgender discrimination lawyers at the law firm of McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. fight to protect the civil rights of LGBT people at home, on the job, or in the process of seeking medical care.