Activists warn hospital is breaking law by cancelling gender-affirming surgeries for trans patients

Members of a pro-LGBTQ+ protest wave trans-positive signs, as well as the pink, blue, and white trans flag.

A civil rights advocacy group has warned that a US hospital vowing to stop gender-affirming surgeries is acting “unlawfully.”

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Tennesse arm has said that the Memphis-based hospital Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) is planning to shut down all gender-affirming surgeries.

The hospital alerted one of the group’s clients on 21 November that their gender-affirming surgery had been cancelled due to a newly adopted policy.

This policy would reportedly violate the nondiscrimination provision that all Medicaid providers must adhere to, according to the ACLU.

In a Wednesday (30 November) statement, the group said it had sent a letter to the hospital “demanding that the hospital end its discriminatory policy denying lifesaving medical care to transgender and non-binary patients.”

“ACLU-TN’s letter asserts that Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s new policy and cancellation of surgeries solely for transgender and non-binary patients discriminates against patients on the basis of sex and ability,” the statement continued.

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The group’s letter demands that MLH reschedule their client’s surgery no later than 31 December.

A failure to do so, the statement reads, will result in a formal complaint filed with the US Department of Health, as well as the Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

MLH is one of Tennessee’s largest providers of Medicaid and uninsured patients according to ABC News.

Its website claims that the medical centre serves more than 128,000 adult patients each year.

Tennessee lawmakers draft anti-trans healthcare bills

Their change of policy has come after Republican lawmakers in the region have put bills forward attacking gender-affirming care.

Senate majority leader Jack Johnson and House majority leader William Lambert both drafted legislation that seeks to criminalise procedures for under-18s, while another bill seeks to ban public drag performances.

Despite misinformation littering the subject, gender-affirming surgeries are not conducted on under-18s, nor are they permitted to undergo hormone-replacement therapy (HRT).

Currently, under-18s are permitted to use puberty blockers, which are fully physically reversible, to counteract the initial changes that come from puberty.

“All people should be able to access necessary medical care without fear of discrimination because of who they are,” ACLU staff attorney Lucas Cameron-Vaugn said.

“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.”