Transgender Man Denied Surgery At A Hospital

Transgender Man Denied Surgery At A Hospital

Oliver Knight was due to have a hysterectomy (an operation in which the womb and cervix are removed) at St Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California. However, Knight said that the operation was cancelled “minutes before” the scheduled time. He was allegedly told that they would not be rescheduling the surgery because it was a Catholic hospital.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit with law firm Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP against St Joseph Health The lawsuit is filed for denying care to a transgender patient.


Knight said he has had to deal with “a lot of anti-trans bigotry” in his life. But that he did not expect that treatment from a hospital.

“It seems the hospital doesn’t understand how it feels to be treated inhumanely just because your body parts do not match your soul,” he said.

fiftyshadesofgay/Transgender Man Denied Surgery At A Hospital
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Knight also wrote a blog post for the ACLU.  In the blog, he explained that he felt “hopeful” when he arrived at St Joseph Hospital.  But all his hopes were quickly dashed.

What happened at the hospital

Knight went through three hours of pre-operative procedures. His doctor, Deepak Stokes, then informed him that the hospital had cancelled the surgery and would not reschedule it.

Knight asked Stokes if it was cancelled because he is transgender, and Stokes said yes. The Roman Catholic Church opposes “direct sterilization,”. But the hospital allows doctors to perform hysterectomies on cisgender women for a variety of conditions, the suit says.

Knight’s medical records show that the decision to cancel his surgery “was initiated by an ‘Ethics Assessment’ completed by David Groe, a reverend.  He has no medical training or medical licensure,” according to the suit. The suit also states that the cancellation of the surgery was in accordance with Catholic beliefs about gender.


Knight also said that he was repeatedly misgendered by hospital staff. He was made to wear a pink gown instead of a blue one because he was undergoing “female surgery.”

“Fifteen minutes after that, the hospital staff asked me to leave,” Knight said. “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.”

Jessica Riggin, a partner at Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP, said that the hospital’s refusal to allow the surgery to go ahead was “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,” Riggin said.

“Everyone should be able to get the care they need.”


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