SAN FRANCISCO — The ACLU will argue before the Court of Appeal in San Francisco Tuesday on behalf of Evan Minton, a man who was denied health care because he is transgender.
Minton was scheduled to receive a hysterectomy at Mercy San Juan Medical Center, a Sacramento-area Catholic hospital in the Dignity Health chain. Two days prior to the appointment, a nurse called to discuss the surgery and Minton mentioned that he is transgender. The next day, the hospital canceled the procedure.
The lawsuit, Evan Minton v. Dignity Health, was filed in 2017 by the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP. It argues that Dignity Health's refusal to allow Minton to undergo a hysterectomy while allowing the procedure for cisgender women violates California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. Although the trial court recognized that Dignity Health discriminated against Minton based on his transgender status, it erroneously ruled in favor of the hospital chain. The ACLU appealed the decision, and amicus briefs were filed in support of Minton by the California Medical Association and a number of LGBTQ organizations.
"It is illegal for hospitals that are open to the general public in California to turn away patients simply because they are transgender," said Elizabeth Gill, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. "Everyone should be able to get the care they need, even if their local hospital has a religious affiliation."
Many Californians who rely on Catholic hospitals for their health care are being turned away. In Catholic healthcare, bishops — not medical providers — set the rules, and medical decisions are based on religious doctrine rather than patient need.
"The bishops don't even acknowledge that transgender people exist," Gill said. "Catholic hospitals frequently refuse care for transgender people, causing stress and jeopardizing necessary medical treatment."
Dignity Health is the largest hospital provider in California. It recently merged with another Catholic hospital chain to create the largest nonprofit healthcare system in the country.
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 am on September 10 before Division Four of the Court of Appeal First Appellate District, 350 McAllister Street in San Francisco.