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