Jionni Conforti, who was born female but decided to have her breasts removed in 2014, ten years after deciding to present as a man, filed suit against St. Joseph’s hospital in Paterson, a Catholic hospital in New Jersey for refusing to allow a surgeon to perform a hysterectomy.
The Washington Post reports that Conforti’s suit charges that St. Joseph’s hospital in Paterson violated state and federal anti-bias laws by refusing to perform the surgery. Through Lambda Legal, which filed the suit, Conforti stated, “I am shocked and saddened by the treatment I received and I am afraid of how I would be treated if I need medical care again . . . (The hospital) completely disrespected who I am as a person and that is not how a hospital should treat people.”
St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center responded by asserting it is “a leading Catholic healthcare institution serving one of the most diverse and underserved populations in New Jersey,” adding that it follows the guidelines for Catholic hospitals as delineated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The guidelines clearly state:
Catholic health care services will encounter requests for medical procedures contrary to the moral teachings of the Church. Catholic health care does not offend the rights of individual conscience by refusing to provide or permit medical procedures that are judged morally wrong by the teaching authority of the Church.
Last year, health officials in the Obama Administration issued rules that would deny federal funding to hospitals that refused gender-related services specifically to transgender people. Those rules were blocked by a federal judge while other courts agreed with the Administration. Conforti’s attorneys claim that the decision of the judge who blocked the rules does not apply to private citizens seeking to make individual claims.
Conforti alleges in the complaint that after Conforti’s mother died of breast cancer in 2004, depression set in. Ten years later, diagnosed with gender dysphoria, male hormones were given; a double mastectomy was performed, but the doctor warned that the hormone therapy could increase the risk of cancer, so Conforti decided to get a full hysterectomy.
"(The hospital) completely disrespected who I am as a person and that is not how a hospital should treat people."
Conforti cited a response from Father Martin D. Rooney, director of pastoral care and mission services at St. Joseph’s, which read: “This is to follow up to your e-mail inquiring about scheduling a total hysterectomy here at St. Joseph’s to remove all female parts based on the medical necessity for Gender Reassignment. This is to inform you that as a Catholic Hospital we would not be able to allow your surgeon to schedule this surgery here at St. Joseph’s.”
The suit claims that Rooney’s response “makes clear” that St. Joseph’s “denied Jionni’s medically necessary hysterectomy from being performed [there] because of” Conforti’s gender identity and “nonconformity with sex stereotypes.”