A transgender man has claimed that a Catholic hospital in California refused to perform scheduled surgery at the last minute for “ethical reasons.”

Oliver Knight was due to have a hysterectomy—where the womb and cervix are removed—on August 30 2017 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.

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

– Transgender man Oliver Knight

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

Oliver Knight did not expect ‘anti-trans bigotry’ from hospital

Knight, who is now 29 years old, 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.

Knight also wrote a blog post for the ACLU in which he explained that he felt “hopeful” when he arrived at St Joseph Hospital on August 30 2017, but that his hopes were quickly dashed.

“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.”

– Transgender man Oliver Knight

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

In the blog, Knight said that he was waiting for an hour before the surgeon came in and announced that the surgery would not be going ahead due to the hospital’s Catholic ethos.

Transgender man claims Catholic hospital cancelled surgery for ‘ethical reasons’
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“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.”

Hospital’s actions were ‘discriminatory’, says attorney

Jessica Riggin, 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.”

“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.”

– Jessica Riggin, partner at Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP

According to the ACLU, Knight did not want to have to travel for the surgery as it would increase the burden on him and his family.

However, after his surgery was cancelled at St Joseph Hospital in Eureka, he went on to have the procedure at Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata.

PinkNews contacted St Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California, for comment, but no response had been received at the time of publishing.




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