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A trans boy died by suicide after being misgendered by hospital staff

Reiss Smith September 4, 2019
Katharin Prescott holding a photo of her son Kyler

Katharine Prescott lost her son Kyler in 2015. (National Center for Lesbian Rights)

A trans boy, hospitalised for self-harm and suicidal thoughts, was misgendered by hospital staff. Weeks later, he died by suicide.

Katharine Prescott took her 14-year-old son Kyler to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD), which has a dedicated gender identity clinic, in April 2015.

He had experienced self-inflicted injuries and suicidal thoughts after suffering transphobic harassment.

Katherine said that although she informed the hospital of her son’s gender identity and pronouns, staff repeatedly misgendered him during his treatment.

“RCHSD staff assured Katharine that all staff would refer to Kyler with male gender pronouns and would otherwise treat him as a boy,” a 2016 lawsuit said, according to The Washington Post.

Hospital staff ignored Kyler’s gender marker.

The documents continue that while Kyler’s male gender was noted in his medical records, nurses and other staff members ignored the family’s request and instead used she/her pronouns.

One employee is reported to have told him: “Honey, I would call you a ‘he’, but you’re such a pretty girl.”

Honey, I would call you a ‘he’, but you’re such a pretty girl.

The alleged treatment sent Kyler “into a spiral”.

He was frantic,” Katharine told The Washington Post. “They were making him worse. They were completely traumatising him.”

After placing several calls to the hospital, Katharine said her phone number was blocked.

“Kyler’s distress was compounded by Katharine’s inability to advocate for or console her son as a result of RCHSD’s blocking Katharine’s phone calls,” the lawsuit continued.

After 24 hours a hospital psychologist determined that trans boy Kyler should be discharged, despite him having been placed under a 72-hour suicide hold.

Five weeks later, he died.

Katharine Prescott settled lawsuit with Rady Children’s Hospital.

Katharine announced on August 30 that she had settled with RCHSD for an undisclosed amount. She says that she doesn’t blame the hospital for her son’s death, but wanted to ensure that no other transgender teenager would experience what Kyler did.

“Transgender children deserve love, respect, and support,” Katharine said.

“I am relieved to have this case behind me as I continue to be a fierce advocate for transgender kids.”

Katharine was represented by the Transgender Law Center along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Foley Lardner LLP.

Lynly Egyes, director of litigation at the Transgender Law Center,  said: “Any child or family in crisis should be able to seek out help without fearing discrimination from the very medical professionals who are supposed to care for them.

“It is harmful, dangerous, and wrong for hospitals to attack a transgender young person’s identity and deny them the freedom to be their authentic self.”

Prior to the settlement, RCHSD told The Washington Post: “Our top priority is providing the absolute highest level of care to our patients and families.

“While it is the policy of Rady Children’s not to comment on pending legal matters, any allegations of wrongdoing, including discrimination, are investigated thoroughly and followed up on.”

PinkNews has contact Rady Children’s Hospital for further comment.

If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255 or speak. If you are in the UK, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.

More: Trans, Trans teenager

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