Marti Abernathey

The Breast Holy War

Filed By Marti Abernathey | January 06, 2008 6:06 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: breasts

Apparently the next fight in the American holy war is against women's breasts. The war front in this battle is a Catholic hospital in Dale City, California. The first shot across the bow (or breasts) hit Charlene Hastings in the chest.

Hastings, 57, had already had the major surgery she needed to become a woman. She had chosen a San Francisco plastic surgeon with privileges at Seton to perform the breast augmentation in October 2006. But the surgeon, Dr. Leonard Gray, told her that Seton no longer allowed him to operate on transgender patients, Hastings said.When Hastings called Seton to learn more, a surgical coordinator said the hospital would not allow its facilities to be used for transgender surgery, according to the lawsuit, "She was saying, 'It's not God's will,' " Hastings said. "I couldn't believe it. It's a blatant case of discrimination."

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 21 in San Francisco Superior Court, pits the rights of transgendered people against the hospital's rights to operate according to its religious principles.

State law allows religiously affiliated hospitals to refuse to provide abortions, but there is no specific religious exemption allowing hospitals to deny elective surgery to transgender people.

The first question that comes to mind is how the hospital came to know that the patient was a post operative transsexual woman? As a health care provider myself, I can't even look at my own test results. What gives the surgery coordinator or anyone else in the hospital the right to know?

Elizabeth Nikels, vice president of communications for Daughters of Charity said:

Seton Medical Center provides medically necessary services to all individuals, however, the hospital does not perform surgical procedures contrary to Catholic teaching; for example, abortion, direct euthanasia, transgender surgery or any of its related components.

What is considered a "transgender surgery"? Medical discrimination against transsexuals isn't anything new. Robert Eads, a female to male transsexual, died of of ovarian cancer because more than two dozen doctors refused to treat Eads on the grounds that taking him on as a patient might harm their practice.

Of course Seton Medical Center still performs breast enlargement surgeries on women who are not transgender... because vainness is next to godliness.

cross posted from

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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | January 6, 2008 7:59 PM

Couldn't you make the argument then, that all surgery is against god's will? I mean, if you believe god guides everything that happens in the world, then doesn't he give someone cancerous tumours? Brain aneurisms? High blood pressure or heart disease? It seems intervening to save a person from death by cancer is as much against god's will as performing trans surgeries.

Oh, but then to that they say "God's will works through doctors" blah blah blah blah.

That's why this whole religion thing with regard to this hospital - total excuse. They could just straight up say that they don't like trans folk, that they're invested in the gender dichotomy because it protects people in power, or something more honest, or actually perform the surgery (how are breast augmentations on cis women any more medically necessary? how are they any less against the will of God? God gave breasts of a certain size to those women....).

OK, now that I'm thinking about it, I have an honest question to ask here: What's the opposite of "transgender"? Like "straight"'s the opposite of "gay"...

I know it's a whole lot more complicated than one word, but how does someone refer to a non-trans woman/man? Cis? Straight? Non-trans?

THey are allowed to do that under California law.
According to the Transgender Non Discrimination Act which went into effect in 2004 Religious organizations are exempt from the law.
There is a dozen hospitals in SF why does She have to have her surgery done in that one?

Marti you need to look at the test of the Law and i think you will find the hospital is within their right.

Take care

Caillean McMahon | January 7, 2008 1:00 AM

But Sue, she was post op, therefore legally female in all probability. And, religious organizations are exempt, hospitals tend to be incorporated as non-profit organizations OPERATED by the religious agency.

If they want to refuse SRS, fine...but augmentation mammoplasty when they do it for other women? You have to wonder.

As far as her choosing the hospital, usually the surgeon chhoses the hospital.

That does depend on what her birth certificate says.

As far as that hospital goes it is a Catholic hospital. they can choose to not accept patients who's lifestyle (their perception not mine) We also need to remember the medical procedure is Elective not life threatening.
your correct in that the surgeon usually chooses the hospital. I am sure he has surgical rights at another hospital.

I hate to say this If She goes through with this law suite not only will it cost her a ton of money she won't recover but she will end up setting back the TG/TS cause in California.

There is a pamphlet obtainable from the Transgender Law Center which has the actual text of the law in it... It clearly make the exemption for religious organizations.

The other thing that bothers me is this procedure is usually done in a clinic setting. My girlfriend's BA was done in the doctor's office. why spend an additional 1000-2000 to have the procedure done in a hospital?

Take care

Just one more thing..

In a free society even the religeous right has freedom of choice.

Take care

Alex - Some trans folks use "cisgender" to refer to non-trans folks, the idea being that it put people on an equal footing. Just as "gay" and "straight" do vs. "gay" and "non-gay" do, to make an analogy. Other trans folks feel "cisgender" is a mouthful of academese.

Me, I'm a bit ambivalent about the term. I see (and agree with) the rationale for it, but also agree it sounds a tad jargony. But maybe that's just me getting used to the term.