Dear Catholic Church, Supporting Trans People Does Not “Promote A Mental Disorder”

Oliver Knight — ACLU of Northern California

A Catholic hospital in California denied services to a transgender man explicitly because he is transgender.

Oliver Knight hoped to undergo his gender-confirmation surgery at the only hospital near him in Eureka, California back in August 2017. The hospital is operated by St. Joseph’s Health, which is owned by Providence St. Joseph Health Network — a nationwide health system of 51 hospitals.

According to articles in Advocate, North Coast Journal, and Knight’s own blog post, when Knight arrived for his operation, the hospital staff misgendered him and made him wear a pink gown for his hysterectomy because it’s a “female” surgery. Then, after hours of pre-operative procedures, the hospital canceled his surgery and refused to reschedule it.

He had an appointment. His doctor was totally onboard with the surgery. He went to the hospital and dealt with their transphobic nonsense and was denied his civil right minutes before the surgery.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is working with Knight, now 29 years old, on his lawsuit against the hospital.

If this case hasn’t already made you cringe in your seat, it will when you learn that The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed their view that supporting gender-confirmation surgeries like Knight’s is “in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”

Sorry (not sorry) Bishops, you’re wrong.

The American Psychological Association (APA) states that “A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder

In fact, gender-confirmation surgery can help treat mental difficulties that trans folk may experience, such as anxiety and mood troubles. In their official position statement on this matter, the APA stated that trans people “can benefit greatly from medical and surgical gender transition treatments.”

So, not only were the bishops wrong, the opposite is true —supporting surgeries like Knight’s can prevent and/or treat mental disorders related to gender dysphoria.

Knight ultimately underwent his surgery at a different hospital and hopes his story can have a positive impact. Now, let’s help spread the word.

You can read the full lawsuit here and read Knight’s blog post on the ACLU website here