Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis catches flak from ACLU for transgender policies

Hospital says it halted procedures to answer questions from care providers

By: - December 2, 2022 6:02 pm
(Illustration by Getty Images)

(Illustration by Getty Images)

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include response from Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare.)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is taking Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) in Memphis to task for canceling gender affirmation surgery for a 19-year-old patient.

According to the ACLU, Chris Evans was notified days before a scheduled surgery that the hospital had adopted a policy to deny gender-affirming care to transgender and nonbinary patients. 

“All people should be able to access necessary medical care without fear of discrimination because of who they are,” said ACLU-TN Staff Attorney Lucas Cameron-Vaughn. “Denial of healthcare results in life-threatening situations for all patients. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is risking the lives of its patients by jumping into culture wars. Discrimination does not belong in healthcare.

A letter sent by Cameron-Vaughan alleges Evans was told of the facility’s decision on November 21. 

“Such a policy is unlawful discrimination based on sex pursuant to Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as discrimination on the basis of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,” wrote Cameron-Vaughan.

“Categorically refusing to provide treatment to an individual because they are transgender or nonbinary is prohibited sex discrimination under Section 1557,” the letter continues.

The ACLU “demands” the healthcare facility respond by the close of business on December 2 with confirmation Evans’ surgery has been scheduled to be performed before December 31. 

Should MLH not comply, the ACLU plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

MLH’s website states the healthcare facility is Tennessee’s largest provider of care to TennCare/Medicaid and uninsured patients, serving more than 128,000 adult TennCare and Medicaid patients annually. 

A web page titled “LGBTQ+” has been deactivated from the site. 

In a statement, MLH said, “Our commitment remains to deliver high quality and compassionate care to any patient regardless of their race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. In recent weeks, some care providers voiced questions about patients receiving gender affirming procedures at a facility affiliated with our health system. This resulted in a temporary pause to review current practices. We have not changed our practices regarding the treatment of transgender and/or non-binary patients. We have not wavered from our commitment as a health system for all. We understand the physicians are moving forward with getting the patients rescheduled before the end of the year.”

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