MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As of Wednesday, November 30, the Tennessee ACLU is calling on Methodist Le Bonheur to reinstate all health care options to transgender and non-binary patients.
19-year-old Chris Evans is at the forefront of this issue just when they were told just days before their initial gender-affirming surgery that the surgery was cancelled.
The letter from the ACLU quotes Attorney Lucas Cameron-Vaughn:
“All people should be able to access necessary medical care without fear of discrimination because of who they are. 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.”
The letter additionally states that the cancellation of surgeries solely for transgender and nonbinary patients discriminates on the grounds of sex and ability therefore violating federal non-discrimination laws.
Following this statement, the letter demands the hospital to reschedule Evans’ surgery by December 31, 2022 or the ACLU will complete a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.
The letter can be read in it’s full extent here.
As ABC24 has stated previously, Methodist Le Bonheur is a privately operated institution. We have reached out to Methodist Le Bonheur numerous times and have received no response. The medical organization is also no longer allowing our emails to be sent to their communications team. Below is the automated message sent back to us following our email to Methodist communications team: “An email you addressed to *email address* could not be delivered. The problem appears to be: Recipient email server rejected the message. Possible mail loop detected on message id.”
The Evans family is devastated, disappointed and hoping for things to turn around before insurance runs out. A house full of love is at a standstill after their sibling, Chris, was removed from a list of patients awaiting gender-affirming surgery.
“It was a very shocking, jarring call,” sibling Ashley Evans said. “Essentially, the surgery coordinator told us that Methodist surgery center told them that they were cancelling all trans-related surgeries.”
“Knowing the gravity of the situation, it’s hard not just to feel overwhelming disappointment,” sibling Tori Evans said.
The opportunity for life-saving surgery taken away, and if they aren’t able to get Chris back on the list to get surgery soon, financial support from insurance could go away.
“Most people can understand you’re at the end of an insurance year,” Ashley said. “It’s November, December now, for us, that meant fully taking advantage of our insurance benefits to have the surgery covered more fully and this surgery was paid for, we were ready, everything was signed for on the dotted line.”
If the surgery is postponed to next year, they run the risk of not being able to use insurance and having to start financing surgery from scratch – a thought weighing heavily on the siblings minds.
“I almost can’t think about it because we’ve struggled so much this year to get to where we are and the past three years, past five years, since Chris was a young child – since Chris was in middle school – it’s so hard to even speak about what that would mean,” Ashley said.
Disappointed, but not hopeless, the Evans are pushing forward to get answers as to why the surgery was cancelled and help get their sibling get rescheduled.
“Being grateful for each other right now is going to keep our spirits up because there’s a lot to be unhappy about, obviously,” Tori said.
The Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis said they did not make the decision to cancel surgery.
We have reached out to Methodist and they have not responded.