US: Hospital Canceled Hysterectomy for Trans Man Minutes Before Surgery

A transgender man is suing a Catholic hospital in Northern California that canceled his hysterectomy minutes before the surgery was to begin.

Oliver Knight was scheduled to undergo the procedure in August 2017 at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka. Knight, then 27, had experienced misgendering at the hospital and had been told to wear a pink gown rather than a blue one (which he preferred) because he was having “female” surgery, according to his lawsuit, which is being handled by the American Civil Liberties Union and was filed Thursday in Humboldt County Superior Court. But it is the only hospital in the area, and he hoped to receive his gender-confirmation surgery there.

After Knight went through three hours of pre-operative procedures, his doctor, Deepak Stokes, informed him that the hospital had canceled the surgery and would not reschedule it. Knight asked Stokes if it was canceled because he is transgender, and Stokes said yes. The Roman Catholic Church opposes “direct sterilization,” but the hospital routinely allows Stokes and other doctors to perform hysterectomies on cisgender women for a variety of conditions, the suit says. Hospital officials objected, however, to the surgery as a treatment for gender dysphoria.

Knight’s medical records show that the decision to cancel his surgery “was initiated by an ‘Ethics Assessment’ completed by David Groe … a reverend, with no medical training or medical licensure,” according to the suit, which goes on to say the cancellation of the surgery was in accordance with Catholic beliefs about gender.

“‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated. “People who undergo sex reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. ... Claiming that this is a civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.” Read more via the Advocate