Transgender Man Sues Catholic Hospital Over 'Refusal To Perform Surgery'

A transgender man is suing a Roman Catholic hospital in New Jersey after it allegedly cited religion in its refusal to perform surgery as part of his gender transition.

Jionni Conforti, a transgender man has filed a lawsuit against a Roman Catholic hospital after it refused to perform surgery as part of his gender transition.Facebook/ Jionni Conforti

Jionni Conforti, 33, made the federal lawsuit on Thursday in response to being denied a hysterectomy he said was medically necessary for his transition, Associated Press reports. The surgery at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson was scheduled to take place in 2015 but Conforti said the hospital told him the procedure to remove his uterus was not possible because St. Joseph's is a "Catholic hospital".

"I felt completely disrespected as a person," said Conforti.

He added: "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."

Conforti began his gender transition in 2004. The procedure to remove his uterus was eventually undertaken at a different hospital but he says he is pursuing the lawsuit so that others don't face the same perceived discrimination.

When asked on Thursday, a spokesman for St. Joseph's said he hadn't seen the lawsuit yet and so could not comment. 

The hospital's "patients' bill of rights" guarantees medical services without discrimination based on "gender identity or expression". However, the issue causes division because the prospect of gender reassignment is contradicted by traditional Catholic teaching which states that gender is not alterable. Previous comments by Pope Francis on the issue reflect the pastoral and theological tensions that the issue poses.

Last week a coalition of Catholic businesses and organisations filed a legal challenge in the federal court of North Dakota, against regulations that Catholic hospitals say force them to perform gender transitioning procedures and abortions against their conscience.

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

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