A Tennessee hospital said it temporarily paused “gender affirming procedures” after several providers questioned the provision of such services.
Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said it is now working to reschedule patients whose procedure appointments were canceled before the end of the year, days after the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee threatened to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.
“In recent weeks, some care providers voiced questions about patients receiving gender affirming procedures at a facility affiliated with our health system. This resulted in a temporary pause to review current practices,” Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said in a statement to the Washington Examiner on Monday. “We have not changed our practices regarding the treatment of transgender and/or non-binary patients. We have not wavered from our commitment as a health system for all. We understand the physicians are moving forward with getting the patients rescheduled before the end of the year.”
The hospital did not specify how many patients or what type of procedures were affected by the pause.
Last week, the ACLU said client Chris Evans, 19, had a surgery scheduled at the hospital for November that was canceled days before.
The nonprofit organization threatened to file a federal complaint if Evans’s surgery was not rescheduled by Dec. 31, claiming that the hospital’s cancellation of surgeries for transgender and nonbinary patients was discriminatory on the basis of sex and ability.
“Denial of healthcare results in life-threatening situations for all patients. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is risking the lives of its patients by jumping into culture wars. Discrimination does not belong in healthcare,” said Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, an attorney for the ACLU of Tennessee, in a statement last Wednesday.
Transgender-related treatments, including gender transition surgeries and puberty blockers, have come under scrutiny in several states, including Tennessee. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville said in October that it would be pausing gender transition surgeries for minors to review its procedures after videos surfaced of a doctor claiming that the surgeries are “huge money makers,” according to the Associated Press.
GOP leaders in Tennessee’s statehouse have vowed to take legislative action to ban transgender-related treatments for minors in the new year.