Jesse Hammons, a transgender man, was all set to have a hysterectomy earlier this year. The surgery would have allowed him to feel more comfortable in his body. But his surgeon, who has worked with trans people before, unfortunately scheduled the operation at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center… which happens to be a Catholic institution.
The Catholic Church rejects transgender identities.
The Washington Post explains how Hammons’ surgery was canceled by the hospital the night before it was supposed to happen because the Church itself disapproved of what he was doing, not because there was any medical concern.
Now he’s suing them.
This case is one of a growing list that begs the question of when one person’s religious freedom overrides another person’s right to exercise their civil rights. This particular hospital is Catholic, but in 2012, it was taken over by the state-funded university with the understanding it could still function as a Catholic hospital.
On Thursday afternoon, Hammons filed a lawsuit against St. Joseph Medical Center, claiming the hospital’s denial violated the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause and discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act.
“I felt like this hospital didn’t see any worth in my life and the care that I needed,” Hammons said. “The University of Maryland St. Joseph’s should be caring for all of Maryland’s residents. We shouldn’t be denied based on who we are.”
Interestingly enough, the lawsuit cites the recent Supreme Court decision defending trans rights:
The lawsuit also cites Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., the landmark Supreme Court ruling last month establishing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex,” includes gay and transgender employees. Hammons’s lawsuit alleges his hysterectomy would not have been canceled if it had been approved for a diagnosis other than gender dysphoria.
Whether it’ll make any difference in this case is an open question. It’s widely understood that this particular Supreme Court will allow religious beliefs to override LGBTQ rights whenever the two are in conflict.
The only silver lining here is that Hammons was able to have the surgery last month — at a different location. But the fact that he feels more comfortable with his body now only confirms to him why the hospital shouldn’t have canceled the earlier surgery.
(Image via ACLU)