CARMICHAEL, California, September 1, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A California woman seeking gender “reassignment” surgery is upset because a local Catholic hospital affiliate declined to perform a scheduled hysterectomy on her, a violation of the facility’s religious directives.
Evan Michael Minton said Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael suddenly cancelled the procedure, which had been scheduled for three weeks, on Monday in the midst of preparing her admissions paperwork, calling it off for religious reasons.
“When I got that news, I fell on the ground and cried uncontrollably,” Minton said. “It hurt because of the fact that I’m being discriminated against based on my innate and immutable characteristics, and it also hurt because it put everything in flux.”
Minton, a 35-year-old state legislative aide who has been planning for the procedure for some time, “came out” as “transgender” six years ago, according to the Sacramento Bee, and has been living as a man since, taking male hormones. She has already had a double mastectomy and is scheduled to have a phalloplasty — male organ construction surgery — on November 23, but the hysterectomy must take place first.
She told local NBC affiliate KCRA that “transitioning” to the male gender was necessary for her to live her “most authentic life,” and that even though her personal information had previously indicated her condition, her informing Mercy San Juan staff on Sunday during pre-op paperwork to make special note that she was “transgender” likely led to the hysterectomy’s cancellation.
“I said, ‘You know what, can you please make a special note in my chart that says that I’m transgender?'” Minton recounted. “Because, my pronouns mean a lot to me. I need to go by he, him and his.”
Minton’s surgeon was then informed that she could not perform the procedure on Minton, both women saying they were caught off guard by the decision.
“They were unable to do ‘his’ surgery as it went against the Catholic directives of the hospital,” Dr. Lindsey Dawson said.
A statement provided to LifeSiteNews by Dignity Health Mercy San Juan Medical Center said the hospital was unable to discuss patient specifics due to privacy laws, but its Catholic affiliates, in accord with the U.S. Bishops’ healthcare directives, could not perform sterilization procedures absent “a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.”
“In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) and the medical staff bylaws,” the statement said. “Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available. When a service is not offered, the patient’s physician makes arrangements for the care of his/her patient at a facility that does provide the needed service.”
Minton told Fox 40 she didn’t believe the hospital’s statement about its practices with regard to sterilization and the Catholic directives, stating her doctor reviewed hospital’s policy and didn’t find anything about this. She said as well that she had sought legal counsel.
“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to live like this,” she said.
Minton spoke in the Sacramento Bee story about how her gender dysphoria affects her.
“It makes me feel like I want to crawl out of my skin,” she said. “It brings me to my knees, it gives me anxiety, it makes me so emotional and that’s when I know that I need to take the next step in my transition. … I want to live as the complete man that I know myself to be. That’s all.”
Dawson said there is clear medical need for Minton to have a hysterectomy.
“Gender dysphoria is very clearly a pathology,” Dawson said. “It’s a recognized state of health.”
Individuals who are “transgender” suffer from the mental disorder gender dysphoria, in which they may feel unhappy with their biological sex, express a desire to be the opposite sex or even insist that they are of the opposite sex. Suicide rates are high among these individuals, and experts recommend psychological treatment rather than gender “reassignment” that generally results in regret and fails to address the dysphoria.
The Catholic Church teaches that gender is God-given, and opposes procedures that would endeavor to change that. The U.S. bishops promulgated their Ethical and Religious Directives in 2009 to offer direction to Catholic healthcare facilities in the United States for operating in accord with Church teaching.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California staff attorney Ruth Dawson (no relation to Minton’s surgeon) said ACLU leaders officials were “dismayed” by Dignity Health’s decision. The ACLU has gotten calls in California in the last year about patients being denied access to “reproductive health care,” including hysterectomies and gender surgeries, said Dawson, who added, “It’s a widespread problem.”
“Trans patients must have and deserve meaningful comprehensive access to healthcare, without burdensome and unnecessary preconditions,” Dawson went on. “Unfortunately, that’s what Mr. Minton is experiencing here.”
The ACLU sued Dignity Health last year for its Redding, California, hospital’s declining to sterilize two women after their schedules C-sections as a form of permanent birth control. The hospital reversed its decision in one of the cases, and a superior court judge ruled earlier this year in the other case that forcing the hospital to sterilize the woman against its religious directives is a violation of its religious freedom.
Dignity Health tried to schedule Minton’s procedure it another facility, the NBC report said, but it conflicted with the doctor’s schedule.
The hospital’s cancellation of Minton’s scheduled hysterectomy upset her as well for jeopardizing her impending male organ construction procedure.
“I’m going to have to reschedule the phalloplasty, and the waiting list is at least seven to nine months,” she said, “and so it’s like, what am I going to do with my life during that time?”
In spite of the cancellation, Dr. Dawson said Dignity Health officials were helpful in getting her established with emergency privileges at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, a Dignity Health facility that is not bound by the Catholic directives.
“I don’t blame the staff,” Dawson said. “I don’t blame the administrators. I blame the (Catholic) doctrines.”