WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear a challenge to a California court decision in favor of a patient who was turned away from a hospital for being transgender.
Evan Minton was scheduled to undergo a medical procedure in 2016 at Mercy San Juan Medical Center, a Sacramento hospital in the Dignity Health chain. Two days prior to the appointment, a nurse called to discuss the surgery and Minton mentioned that he is transgender. The next day, the hospital canceled the procedure. Minton sued claiming unlawful discrimination under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. The ACLU and Covington & Burling LLP represent him.
In 2019, the California Court of Appeal held that Minton could pursue a claim for discrimination based on the hospital’s cancellation of his surgery. The court also said that Dignity Health does not have a constitutional right to violate California’s nondiscrimination law. Today, the Supreme Court declined to uproot this ruling, stopping further attempts to authorize discrimination against trans people under the guise of religious liberty. In June, the court issued a unanimous decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in which the court refused to create a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Elizabeth Gill, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, had the following response:
“Dignity Health is trying to claim it’s an LGBTQ-friendly organization but when Evan needed care he was turned away because he is transgender. It’s wrong that anyone would be turned away from health care because of who they are, and when a health care provider denies care to a population they claim to serve, that’s hypocrisy.
“Our work does not stop with this case. Trans people belong everywhere and we will continue to fight alongside the trans community for health care access.”
Evan Minton had the following response:
“Since Dignity Health turned me away for being transgender, I’ve had multiple medical emergencies and I can’t stand to go to my neighboring Dignity Hospital because of the discrimination I was put through. In one instance, I called my doctor and had them talk me through a procedure I performed on myself to avoid having to go into one of their hospitals. I hope Dignity Health will finally take responsibility for what they did to me and what they continue to do. I applaud transgender Californians and people across the country who are sharing their denial of care experiences. This should not be our private pain and shame. We deserve health care, we deserve restroom access, we deserve to play on sports teams, we deserve better. With my community by my side, I look forward to carrying on in this fight for justice.”