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Trans man sues hospital for refusing to perform ‘medically necessary’ hysterectomy on him

Emma Powys Maurice July 18, 2020
trans man

Trans man Jesse Hammons and his wife, pastor Lura Groen (Screenshot: ACLU/Facebook)

A trans man is suing a hospital that refused to give him a “medically necessary” hysterectomy recommended as part of his gender-affirming treatment plan.

Baltimore man Jesse Hammons was scheduled to undergo the common surgery at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Centre (UMMS) in January, but the hospital cancelled the procedure a week beforehand.

According to the lawsuit, hospital administrators told Hammons that he couldn’t receive his treatment at the hospital because it would violate Catholic doctrine. The facility previously operated as a Catholic hospital until it was purchased by University of Maryland Medical System in 2012.

“I was shocked when I learned that the hospital cancelled my surgery just because I am transgender,” Hammons told the ACLU.

“The hospital will perform hysterectomies for everyone else, but they did not think that my life, as a man who is transgender, is equally worthy of protection.

“While no one should be turned away from health care because of who they are, the fact that this institution is part of the University of Maryland Medical System makes it particularly painful.”

Hammons’ treating physicians recommended the hysterectomy as a “medically necessary” treatment for his gender dysphoria, but the hospital decided that gender dysphoria did not qualify as a sufficient medical reason to authorise the procedure.

transgender
Jesse Hammons argues that the hospital unlawfully discriminated against him because he is a trans man (Screenshot: ACLU/Facebook)

Catholic health care organisations aren’t permitted to participate in or cooperate with “actions that are intrinsically immoral, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and direct sterilisation,” but as the facility is now government-run it can no longer deny medical care based on religious beliefs.

“The government has no business running a religious hospital,” said senior staff attorney Joshua Block with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project.

“The Supreme Court has been clear that a government-controlled corporation like UMMS must comply with the Constitution.

“A governmental entity cannot deny medical care based on religious beliefs, and it cannot discriminate against transgender people by denying them health care that is available to everyone else.”

As the hospital regularly performs hysterectomies for cis patients with medical conditions, the lawsuit argues that UMMS discriminated against Hammons by denying him medical care on the basis of his gender identity.

As a result Hammons’ hysterectomy was delayed by about six months, causing him to spend more money on an additional round of preoperative tests.

He was also forced to carry the “stress and anxiety of having to mentally prepare himself for the surgery all over again,” the lawsuit states.

In a statement to the Union Bulletin UMMS declined to comment on specifics of the case, citing patient privacy, but said St. Joseph does not discriminate nor treat any patient differently on the basis of race, colour, national origin, age, disability or sexual orientation.

“The health and safety of our patients is, and always will be, our highest priority,” officials said.

More: Baltimore, Catholic, Gender-affirming surgery, hysterectomy, University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Centre

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