Transgender activists often claim that when their opponents want to outlaw medical experiments on children, they are not opposing a grotesque alteration of the body, but forbidding doctors to provide any kind of medical care for a class of people — namely, those who identify as transgender.
Yet we conservatives and our gender-critical allies wholeheartedly support requiring hospitals to serve all patients who suffer from physical maladies — people who claim to identify as transgender very much included. We merely oppose the unproven and frankly insane medical alterations that go by the euphemism “gender-affirming care.” (We also want medical records to reflect a patient’s biological sex, rather than “gender identity,” but that does not equate to a denial of care.)
Ironically, the pro-transgender medical establishment appears to have begun implementing what it falsely claims conservatives want — denying care to a class of people based on how they identify.
Cancer Patient “Cancelled” Because of Beliefs
At least, that’s what reportedly happened at the Richmond Family Health Center in Portland, Oregon, last month. The clinic, a primary care facility under Oregon Health & Science University, appears to have “canceled” a patient due to her beliefs about gender.
Marlene Barbera, who was receiving treatment for breast cancer, made the mistake of revealing her identity as a “gender-critical woman.” Her belief that biology trumps gender identity —rather than the reverse — got her exiled from the medical clinic, where she had been receiving care for a genuine physical disease that might kill her.
Barbera made the apparent mistake of complaining about a transgender flag in the medical clinic, Reduxx reported. She reportedly sent a message to her doctor — assuming it would go only to her doctor — expressing her outrage at the flag.
“I would like to speak with you directly — as I no longer trust that my communications are filtered in good faith by OHSU staff,” she began. “Additionally, … as a gender critical woman, who believes gender to be a nonsense, and sexed bodies to be a reality, I do not feel comfortable coming into Richmond with that enormous transgenderism banner hanging like a Nazi flag behind the reception desk.”
She went on to describe her experiences having been “threatened on Twitter by transactivists with rape and death — so it is daunting to go for medical treatment with that banner proclaiming that what I am — an adult human female (calling myself that now is hateful per OHSU), a woman, is a mere opt-in category for any gender-nonconforming male and not a reality.”
According to Reduxx, the message circulated among staff, and after a snafu in booking an appointment, a staffer demanded to hear what Barbera had written. After she repeated her words, the staffer hung up, and a few weeks later, she got the boot.
“This letter is to inform you that effective immediately you are discharged from receiving medical care at the Richmond Family Medicine Clinic,” the message, dated Jun. 29, reads. “This action is being taken because of ongoing disrespectful and hurtful remarks about our LGBTQ community and staff.”
The clinic announced that it would “continue to provide for” her “urgent health care needs” until July 29. “Please note that you are also now dismissed from all OHSU Family Medicine clinics, including Immediate Care clinics. If you need assistance in finding a new provider, please contact your health plan.”
Barbera is not an otherwise-healthy patient who just senses that she was born in the wrong body and wants medical alterations to make her body appear more like that of a man. She is a breast cancer patient. Her medical provider is turning her away from care in a life-or-death situation because she doesn’t agree with the reigning ideology.
Care Denied Over Speech?
Barbera arguably should not have compared the transgender flag to a Nazi flag. But would any medical provider refuse to treat a cancer patient who had publicly compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler? What if the person compared Trump supporters to Nazis and the medical clinic employed Trump supporters? What if the person had compared white men or conservative Christians to Nazis?
Barbera clearly intended her message for her doctor and her doctor alone. She was not broadcasting some message of harassment against any people at the clinic who might identify as transgender.
Oregon Health & Science University told me that it cannot comment on a specific individual’s case, and cannot even confirm if a person is a patient without the patient’s consent. However, the university cited its patient rights, responsibilities, and safety document:
An OHSU patient has a right to care that is delivered in a way that is free from abuse, discrimination or harassment based on age, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, culture, language, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, physical or mental disability, religion, socioeconomic status, marital status, military or reserve status, or any other status protected by law.
OHSU patients, families and visitors have a responsibility to refrain from using discriminatory, profane, derogatory or threatening language, imagery or behavior, and understand that these behaviors can result in limitation of visiting privileges and impact access to care at OHSU.
OHSU also noted that the Richmond clinic does not provide oncology services. Some OHSU locations, notably the Knight Cancer Institute Oncology Clinic, do provide oncology services, however, and Barbera’s exclusion reportedly includes all OHSU clinics. According to Google, OHSU runs six of the top 21 cancer centers in Portland.
Make no mistake, this clinic and the university that owns it made an intentional decision to exile a patient in desperate need of health care for ideological reasons. They did the very thing that transgender activists are constantly — and falsely — claiming their opponents want to do.
You don’t have to agree with Barbera’s words to see just how outrageous that is.
It was already horrific enough that health care facilities endorse as “care” experimental medical interventions that will leave children stunted, scarred, and infertile. It is arguably worse for a medical clinic to turn away a patient suffering from a life-threatening disease because she disagrees with that insanity.
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Tyler O’Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal and the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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