A transgender man can sue a Catholic hospital over a last-minute hysterectomy cancellation, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Evan Minton's procedure was canceled after the patient told a nurse of being transgender, the paper said, citing the lawsuit. Dignity Health, which operates Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, arranged for Minton to have the hysterectomy at Methodist Hospital in south Sacramento within 72 hours of the denial, the Bee said, citing court records.
"I wanted to live as the complete man that I know myself to be," Minton said in a Bee video, adding that "my case is just an example of the barriers and hurdles that are put in transgender people's lives ... we just want to live authentic lives and be our authentic selves."
Image source: Sacramento Bee video screenshot
What happened next?
American Civil Liberties Union lawyers argued on Minton's behalf that Mercy San Juan's actions violated California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which says businesses must offer full and equal access to state residents, the paper said.
However, a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, the Bee reported, saying the hospital followed the direction of California Supreme Court justices in quickly rescheduling the procedure at a different facility.
But Minton's appeal went differently.
"Without determining the right of Dignity Health to provide its services in such cases at alternative facilities, as it claims to have done here, we agree that plaintiff's complaint alleges that Dignity Health initially failed to do so and that its subsequent rectification of its denial, while likely mitigating plaintiff's damages, did not extinguish his cause of action for discrimination," Justice Stuart R. Pollak stated in the appellate decision, the paper said, adding that Justices Alison Tucher and Tracie L. Brown agreed.
What did the defendants have to say?
"Catholic hospitals do not perform sterilizing procedures such as hysterectomies for any patient regardless of their gender identity, unless there is a serious threat to the life or health of the patient," Dignity Health said in a statement last week, the Bee reported. "Courts have repeatedly recognized the right of faith-based hospitals not to provide services based on their religious principles....In this case, Mr. Minton was able to quickly receive the sought-after procedure at another nearby Dignity Health hospital that is not Catholic-affiliated."
More from the paper:
Minton was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition that results from a feeling of incongruence between one's gender identity and one's sex assigned at birth, according to a court filing dated April 19, 2017. Minton was assigned the sex of female, the lawsuit stated, but identified as a male as he developed.
His physicians recommended a series of treatments to help him transition and affirm his gender identity, records showed, and Minton underwent hormone replacement therapy in 2012 and a mastectomy in 2014. He planned to undergo the hysterectomy before undergoing the surgical creation of a penis.
Elizabeth Gill, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Northern California, told the Bee that Minton's hysterectomy wasn't any more elective than for cisgender women who have them at Mercy San Juan for non-life-threatening reasons.