Federal Judge Rules St. Joseph Medical Center Discriminated Against Transgender Man


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TOWSON - A federal judge ruled on Friday that St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson discriminated against a transgender patient when the facility refused to provide them with a hysterectomy.

You can read the entire decision here.

The ACLU represented Jesse Hammons, a transgender man, as he sued the University of Maryland Medical System, which operates St. Joseph Medical Center.

This court has determined that undisputed facts establish that, as a matter of law, Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of his sex,” U.S. District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow wrote.

The decision was based on Md. Code, Educ. § 13-303(d), the ruling says, “UMMS is bound by Maryland law to “operate the medical system without discrimination based upon race, creed, sex, or national origin.”

According to court documents, Hammons went to St. Joseph’s in 2019 seeking a hysterectomy, a procedure to remove a patient’s uterus. Hammons was seeking the operation to treat their gender dysphoria. Hammons was initially approved for the procedure, and it was scheduled for January 2020.

Documents show that Hammon’s doctor consulted St. Joseph’s chief medical officer about the procedure. It was determined that the facility would not perform the hysterectomy because it did not conform with their ethical and religious directives.

Hammons was informed that the procedure would not be done, and they went to a different hospital and received the procedure a few months later.

This case is the latest in a series of decisions deciding whether or not the state or federal government can compel a religious institution to perform procedures that do not conform with their values.

In a North Dakota case, a federal appeals court issued a permanent injunction saying that forcing Catholic-affiliated organizations to provide gender transition treatments violates their religious liberty.

An earlier ruling from a separate federal appeals court blocked the Affordable Care Act’s “transgender mandate.” The mandate compelled hospitals to perform gender-transition procedures on patients, even when it violates their sincerely held religious principles.

Michael Schwartzberg, Senior Director of Media Relations for UMMS issued the following statement. 

“The University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical System are carefully reviewing the decision from Judge Chasanow. We dispute many of the conclusions that were reached in this decision and may be in a position to comment further after additional analysis of the ruling. Legal disagreements aside, we sincerely wish the very best for Mr. Hammons and we support his efforts to seek the highest quality healthcare. We may disagree on certain technical, legal points but compassion for the patients we serve remains foundational to our work. This legal claim stems directly from, and is traceable to, a surgeon mistakenly scheduling a procedure that could not be performed at UM SJMC. Although our offer to perform gender affirming surgery at a different location was declined by Mr. Hammons, the University of Maryland Medical System remains committed to meeting the unique medical needs of transgender individuals and patients who are routinely scheduled by physicians for appointments and procedures at UMMS member organizations.”

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