Memphis hospital caves to ACLU legal threats, will resume transgender surgeries

News & Politics

The American Civil Liberties Union threatened a Memphis hospital with complaints to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office for Civil Rights if it does not resume transgender surgeries for patients before the end of 2022, according to the Daily Mail. Now, the hospital says it will be “moving forward” with the surgeries before the end of the year.

The ACLU threatened Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare with a lawsuit on behalf of a 19-year-old named Chris Evans whose surgery, scheduled for early December, was canceled. Evans allegedly suffers from gender dysphoria, and according to the ACLU, his surgery is medically necessary, despite the nature of the procedure being unclear.

“Ending medically necessary healthcare for one particular group of people based on sex, whether by formal written policy or simply in practice, is discrimination and violates federal law,” said ACLU attorney Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, adding that the group will “evaluate whether [they] need to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights once [they] have a response from the hospital.”

The ACLU demanded that the surgery be rescheduled for no later than December 31, 2022.

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The hospital has since responded, seemingly giving in to demands, stating that the halt to transgender surgeries was temporary. According to the Canadian Press, the hospital has not changed its stance “regarding the treatment of transgender and/or non-binary patients.”

“In recent weeks, some care providers voiced questions about patients receiving gender affirming procedures at a facility affiliated with our health system,” Rachel Powers, spokesperson for MLH, said in a statement.

“This resulted in a temporary pause to review current practices,” she continued.

Despite the previous cancellations of surgeries, the hospital appears to have reinstated previous appointments, according to new statements.

“We understand the physicians are moving forward with getting the patients rescheduled before the end of the year.”

The website for MLH does not list “transgender surgeries” nor any sort of “gender affirming care” under its list of health care services, nor does its press page have any recent statements or press releases regarding the issue. The hospital’s Twitter has not posted since November 2022, and its Facebook page link is broken.

The hospital is purported to be one of Tennessee’s largest providers to uninsured patients in the state, with outlets claiming it serves nearly 130,000 Medicaid patients per year.

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