A transgender man has sued a Catholic hospital because it canceled his hysterectomy minutes before the scheduled surgery.

Oliver Knight, 29, said in an op-ed that he was informed by his surgeon that the Catholic Church denied his surgery for ethical reasons.

“I didn't understand how this could be happening,” Knight wrote. “The Catholic bishops didn't approve of my surgery. It seemed unreal.”

Knight is represented by the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the law firm Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP in his lawsuit against St. Joseph Health Northern California, one of the largest health care systems in the nation. Eighteen of St. Joseph's 55 hospitals are located in California.

“The refusal of St. Joseph to allow a doctor to perform a medically necessary procedure because the patient is transgender is discriminatory,” said Jessica Riggin, a partner at Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP. “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. Everyone should be able to get the care they need.”

“Gender affirming care is lifesaving and medically necessary,” said Elizabeth Gill, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “Transgender people are part of our community, our workplace, and our neighborhoods and they, just like everyone else, deserve to get the health care they need.”

Knight said that the incident, which occurred in 2017, traumatized him.

“The surgery was important – it was meant to balance my hormones,” Knight said. “The delay disrupted my life. I felt like the hospital's bigotry had set me back years.”

Knight eventually received the surgery at a nearby hospital.