Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Transgender man: Catholic hospital in New Jersey denied my hysterectomy

Jionni Conforti   has sued St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., after he said it cited religion in refusing to allow his surgeon to perform a hysterectomy procedure he said was medically necessary as part of his gender transition.  [Associated Press]

Jionni Conforti has sued St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., after he said it cited religion in refusing to allow his surgeon to perform a hysterectomy procedure he said was medically necessary as part of his gender transition. [Associated Press]

TRENTON, N.J. — A transgender man sued a Roman Catholic hospital Thursday, saying it cited religion in refusing to allow his surgeon to perform a hysterectomy as part of his sex transition.

Jionni Conforti's sex and gender discrimination lawsuit comes as new regulations hailed as groundbreaking anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals are under legal attack from religious groups.

Conforti, 33, of Totowa, had scheduled the surgery at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson in 2015. But he alleges in the federal lawsuit that a hospital administrator then told him the procedure to remove his uterus couldn't be done because it was a "Catholic hospital."

"I felt completely disrespected," said Conforti, whose transition began in 2004. "That's not how any hospital should treat any person regardless of who they are. A hospital is a place where you should feel safe and taken care of. Instead, I felt like I was rejected and humiliated."

A spokesman for the hospital said he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit and wasn't able to comment.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after a federal judge in Texas ordered a halt to new U.S. Health and Human Services regulations that had been set to go into effect Jan. 1 to bar certain forms of transgender discrimination by doctors, hospitals and insurers.

Civil rights groups had hailed the new health rules as groundbreaking, but five states, a Christian medical association and an Indiana-based network of religious hospitals sued. Judge Reed O'Connor ruled Saturday that religious hospitals would be forced to violate their religious beliefs or risk severe consequences if they didn't change their policies.

Another legal challenge to regulations that Catholic hospitals say would force them to perform gender transitioning procedures and abortions was filed in federal court last week in North Dakota by a group of Catholic businesses and organizations, including the Catholic Benefits Association and Diocese of Fargo.

Opponents say the regulation creates a moral problem for Catholic employers and religious groups. They say Pope Francis has reiterated that Catholic teachings oppose theories that a person's sex is alterable.

"While initiating a lawsuit is not something we take lightly, this new mandate represents a grave threat to religious freedom," said Bishop John Folda of the Fargo diocese.

In New Jersey, Conforti, who is represented by the nonprofit Lambda Legal, said a nurse in charge of surgery confirmed the procedure could be scheduled, but his doctor was told later it wouldn't be allowed because it was for gender reassignment.

An email cited in the lawsuit from the hospital's director of mission services, Father Martin Rooney, said it couldn't allow the surgery because it was a Catholic hospital. Rooney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

But the hospital's patient bill of rights guarantees medical services without discrimination based on "gender identity or expression," the lawsuit said.

Conforti said he felt betrayed and became depressed after the hospital's decision. Although he had the procedure performed three months later at a different hospital, he said he's suing so no one else has to go through what he did. Conforti, who is seeking monetary damages and to require the hospital perform any needed medical care for transgender patients, cites the problem of suicide in the transgender community.

"Anything can trigger that. Something may seem small, but to a trans person, it's not," he said. "I don't want other trans people to have to go through and feel what I felt."

Transgender man: Catholic hospital in New Jersey denied my hysterectomy 01/05/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2017 1:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.