A trans woman is suing a Catholic hospital, claiming medical officials blocked her from getting breast enlargement surgery there because she had a sex-change operation.
Charlene Hastings, 57, told The [San Jose] Mercury News that when she called Seton Medical Centre, a Catholic hospital in in Daly City, California, to inquire about breast enlargement surgery, an official told her it wasn’t “God’s will” for her to have such a treatment, because “God made you a man.”
Hastings says her plastic surgeon, Dr Leonard Gray, told her the hospital would not allow him to operate on trans patients there.
She filed a discrimination suit against the hospital on December 21 in San Francisco Superior Court, challenging its ability to operate according to religious principles.
A spokeswoman for Daughters of Charity Health System, which runs the hospital, told nbc11.com that the surgical coordinator was following hospital policy in refusing Hastings’ surgery
“She kept saying, ‘It’s not God’s will’,” Hastings told The Mercury News.
“I could not believe it. It’s a blatant case of discrimination.”
While state law in the USA does allow religious hospitals to refuse to perform abortions, there are no specific exemptions for elective transgender surgery.
Kristina Wertz, legal director of the Transgender Law Centre in San Francisco, told the paper this is not the only such incident. “Seton and other hospitals in the area have put up significant barriers to care for transgender people.
“There’s simply no religious exemption in the Unruh Act,” Wertz said about California’s law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
“We’re talking about a type of care that’s OK for one class but not another.”
Hastings’s lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said the is case not just about the hospital’s religious procedures but also about civil rights.
“It is about transgender people being able to use businesses and other facilities on an equal basis as other people. If you took out ‘transgender’ in the lawsuit and replaced it with ‘African-American,’ this would be a no-brainer,” he said.
The hospital does allow female patients who are not transgender the right to breast-enlargement surgeries.