Katharine Prescott argues that Rady Children’s Hospital- San Diego in California discriminated against her transgender son. The civil complaint filed in a federal court in California comes amid a raging debate in the U.S. about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
The 14-year-old transgender boy, Kyle Prescott, committed suicide 5 weeks after staying at the hospital in 2015 where he was treated for having suicidal thoughts and self-inflicted wounds on his body.
The lawsuit claims that the hospital violated anti-discrimination provisions in federal and state laws, including the Affordable Care Act. The plaintiff’s attorney with the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center stated that she believed this was the first case to claim an underage transgender individual had suffered sex-based discrimination under the Affordable Care Act.
There have been around five similar lawsuits that claimed discrimination against adult transgender people since the law was enacted in 2010.
The mother said that she wants to ensure that no other parents or children go through this same ordeal. She just wanted the hospital to make him feel better in 2015 when he was staying at the hospital. Instead, she feels that they made things worse.
Rady Children’s Hospital- San Diego mentioned on their website that they are competent in caring for transgender children and teenagers. However, the complaint claims that the hospital’s nursing and other staff kept addressing and referring to Kyle with feminine pronouns.
Kyle had legally changed his name and gender, and he referred to the hospital stay as “horrible,” his mother said.
Rady Children’s Hospital- San Diego said that they would not comment, but they are investigating any discrimination. Court documents do not list a defense attorney.
The Affordable Care Act is the first federal healthcare law to ban discrimination against transgender individuals, and a ruling by Minnesota federal court was the first to recognize discrimination against a transgender person under the healthcare law last year.
The mother is seeking damages and restitution, and she also wants the hospital to institute policies preventing discrimination of transgender youth based on sex.
In 2011, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming U.S. respondents said they had attempted suicide.
According to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, overall, 65% of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodation settings in the past 12 months.
The five most prevalent public accommodations discrimination settings were: transportation, retail, dining, public gathering location, and health care.
Those who reported public accommodations discrimination in the past 12 months had an 84% increased risk of adverse physical symptoms in the past 30 days and 99% increased risk of emotional symptoms.
One in five respondents postponed or did not try to get health care in the past year because of prior experiences of mistreatment in health care settings.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they had not seen a doctor in the past year, while 29% reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues.