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Trans 18-year-old sues hospital for last-minute cancellation of gender-affirming surgery

ACLU Colorado
Facebook/ @ACLU of Colorado

The hospital announced it was no longer providing gender-affirming surgery, but did not explain.

The ACLU of Colorado and a transgender 18-year-old are suing the Children’s Hospital of Colorado after it canceled his gender-affirming surgery on the same day he took the last step in confirming a surgery date with his insurance company.

Caden Kent (a pseudonym used to protect the plaintiff’s identity) and the ACLU of Colorado are suing CHCO, where Kent received treatment at the TRUE Center for Gender Diversity since he was 16. Kent had been receiving treatment from the clinic for 20 months and eight months of treatment in preparation for top surgery at the time of the cancellation.

Kent submitted an insurance authorization letter on July 13 last year, the final step before setting a date for surgery. On that same day, he was notified by a CHCO physician’s assistant that the hospital would not move forward with the procedure. Kent was provided with no further explanation, but the hospital announced it would no longer provide gender-affirming surgery.

The cancellation has left Kent and his family to begin the lengthy consultation and treatment process again, as well as leaving them with the entire bill for the procedure if it is to be completed before he heads off to college later in the year.

The lawsuit accuses CHCO of violating the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act which forbids discrimination or denial of services based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

“CHCO’s abrupt cancellation of all gender-affirming surgeries for its trans patients was devastating to Caden, other impacted patients, and Colorado’s transgender community,” Tim Macdonald, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director, said in a statement. “Refusal to provide medically necessary care based on the identity of the person seeking it, and the condition for which they are seeking it, is discriminatory and illegal under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.”

As a result of the cancellation, Kent has been left with heightened anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. Where he had hoped to begin college living his true gender identity, he is concerned he will have difficulty adjusting and adapting to college life.

“Caden came forward to protect other transgender people from the discrimination he experienced,” Emma Mclean-Riggs, ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney, said in a statement. “Transgender people have the right to access necessary medical care, without fear that they may be denied that care because of who they are. Medical providers should ensure their policies and practices are non-discriminatory or prepare to be held accountable in court.”

Kent is asking that the court order CHCO to provide gender-affirming care and surgery, and levy fines and penalties of $5,000 plus unspecified monetary awards for interest and legal fees.

The Advocate has reached out to CHCO for comment.

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