A trans man is suing a hospital for cancelling his hysterectomy minutes before the surgery was supposed to begin.
Oliver Knight was due to undergo the uterus removal operation in August 2017 at Catholic affiliated St Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California. The lawsuit, filed on Thursday (21 March), is handled by the American Civil Liberties Union and submitted to Humboldt County Superior Court.
However, according to the suit, Knight experienced misgendering at the hospital and was told to wear a pink gown because he was having ‘female’ surgery.
His surgeon, Deepak Stokes, told Knight the hospital canceled the surgery and refused to reschedule it. The Catholic bishops didn’t approve of the surgery – it was not denied for medical reasons.
According to medical records, the assessment was completed by David Groe, a reverend with no medical training or license.
In a story on the ACLU website, Knight describes the anxiety attack and treatment that followed.
He said: ‘I had an anxiety attack and thought about all the pre-op and mental preparedness I had to go through just to get here. I freaked out and started crying.
‘I was given medication to calm me down. Fifteen minutes after that, the hospital staff asked me to leave. I still had booties on my feet as a nurse led me outside. I felt humiliated and queasy as I sat on the curb waiting for my roommate to pick me up.’
Knight wanted to use St Joseph Hospital as it was close to his home. This would mean he could recover surrounded by his loved ones.
Could be against California’s civil rights laws
The ACLU argues that the hospital broke California’s civil rights laws. They ban discrimination based on gender identity. The suit seeks to award Knight with an unspecified amount of damages and stop further discrimination.
In an ACLU press release, partner at law firm Rukin Hyland & Riggin, Jessica Riggin, said: ‘The refusal of St. Joseph to allow a doctor to perform a medically necessary procedure because the patient is transgender is discriminatory.
‘This is a hospital that is open to the general public, so even though it’s religiously affiliated, it’s illegal for them to turn away someone based on gender identity.
‘Everyone should be able to get the care they need.’
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, officials at the hospital’s parent organization, St. Joseph Health, said they had not reviewed the suit yet. They will be conducting an investigation.
The statement said: ‘At St. Joseph Health, we believe healthcare is a basic human right and that every individual seeking care should always be treated with compassion and respect.’
Knight was able to reschedule the operation four days later at a hospital a half hour’s drive away.