ACLU Files Lawsuit against Catholic Hospital That Refused Surgery for Transgender Patient

Scott Slayton | Contributor | Friday, April 28, 2017

ACLU Files Lawsuit against Catholic Hospital That Refused Surgery for Transgender Patient

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against a Dignity Health hospital in California after they cancelled an elective hysterectomy for a transgender patient who is transitioning from female to male. 

35-year-old Evan Michael Minton, a former California legislative aide, came out as transgender six years ago and has already undergone a double mastectomy and a phalloplasty. The hysterectomy was scheduled for last Summer at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, but the hospital cancelled the surgery the day before.

Mercy San Juan Medical Center is part of the Dignity Health system, which includes over 400 “care sites” in 22 states. Before 2012, Dignity Health was known as Catholic Healthcare West. Among its care sites are 39 hospitals, 15 of which are non-Catholic.

After Mercy San Juan Medical Center canceled the surgery, Dignity Health helped Minton’s surgeon, Dr. Lindsey Dawson, gain emergency privileges at Methodist Hospital in Sacremento. She performed Minton’s surgery there in September.

Minton said the surgery’s initial cancelation “devastated me, and I don’t want it to affect my transgender brothers and sisters the way it affected me. No one should have to go through that.”

Dr. Dawson was angry about the cancelation as well, but didn’t aim her displeasure at the hospital. “I don’t blame the staff. I don’t blame the administrators. I blame the doctrines.”

The lawsuit seeks $4,000 in damages in accordance with California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their sex, race, religion, age, disability, marital status or sexual orientation. It contains no protections for objections based on religion or conscience.


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/DanielMirer

Publication date: April 28, 2017