Metro Weekly

Transgender California man sues Catholic hospital over hysterectomy denial

Lawsuit claims denial of medically necessary care violates California's Unruh Civil Rights Act

Evan Michael Minton – Photo: ACLU, via Facebook.

A transgender man in California is suing a Catholic hospital chain after being denied a medically necessary hysterectomy.

The ACLU is suing Dignity Health on behalf of Evan Michael Minton, a 35-year-old Sacramento man, after Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, Calif., canceled Minton’s hysterectomy the day before it was scheduled to take place last August, reports the Sacramento Bee.

The hospital, which is affiliated with the Catholic church, refused to perform the procedure because of its policies opposing “elective” sterilization, based on ethical and religious directives issued in 2009 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities,” Melissa Jue, a spokeswoman for Dignity Health, said in a statement sent to the Bee last August. Jue added that Catholic hospitals only perform procedures like hysterectomies or tubal ligations to cure or alleviate a “serious pathology and (if) a simpler treatment is not available.”

Following the denial, Dignity Health helped Minton’s surgeon, Dr. Lindsey Dawson, obtain emergency privileges at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, another Dignity facility that is not bound by Catholic doctrines. Dawson later performed the procedure, part of his treatment for gender dysphoria, at Methodist in September.

Even though he was able to obtain the hysterectomy and complete his transition, Minton is suing to ensure that other transgender people don’t face the same discrimination.

In his lawsuit, Minton argues that the denial of medically necessary care violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

He is also seeking an injunction requiring Dignity Health to allow doctors at its hospitals to perform the same procedures on patients with gender dysphoria that it does on patients without gender dysphoria.

“The refusal of Dignity Health to allow a doctor to perform this common procedure simply because the patient is transgender is discriminatory,” Elizabeth Gill,  a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, said in a statement. “This is a hospital that is open to the general public, so it’s illegal for them to turn away someone based on gender identity.”

Dawson also backed up Minton’s claims that the hospital engaged in discrimination, noting that she routinely performs hysterectomies at Mercy San Juan.

“This is the first time the hospital has prevented me from doing this surgery,” Dawson said in a statement. “It’s very clear to me that the surgery was canceled because Evan is transgender.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com