Target: Dr. Donald Kearns, President and CEO of Rady Children’s Hospital
Goal: Implement better training for hospital staff on how to prevent discrimination against transgender children.
A 14-year-old transgender boy committed suicide six weeks after he was removed from a treatment center for suicidal patients where it is reported he was the victim of discrimination. Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego is being sued by the boy’s mother, Katharine Prescott, due to the things she claims were said to her son by uncompassionate workers in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services unit. She says she does not want to blame the hospital for her son’s death, but would like the hospital to take responsibility for what happened and ensure that no other children have to suffer through the nightmare her son endured.
With the help of Prescott, her son legally changed his name and gender, which was indicated on his medical record prior to treatment. When she admitted her son to 72-hour surveillance, she talked with staff and was assured the proper pronouns would be used and that her child would be treated as a boy. The lawsuit claims that this was not the case, though, and that her son reported being referred to with feminine pronouns multiple times. Legal documentation also quotes one of the nurses as stating, “Honey, I would call you a ‘he’ but you’re such a pretty girl.” Prescott reports that she called the hospital many times but ultimately got her number blocked. Eventually, the boy’s therapist called the hospital, and he was removed from the facility after only about 24 hours of care.
Imagine how traumatizing this would be for any child, especially one already going through a crisis. Mental health specialists say it’s common for transgender youths to suffer discrimination at hospitals because staff are not properly trained on how to communicate with children with gender dysphoria. Whether the mistakes made were intentional or not, they still have harmful effects on patients, who are protected from this sort of abuse under the Affordable Care Act as well as other federal and state laws. Prescott claims her son’s condition worsened after the incident with the hospital and that the abuse may have contributed to his death. Demand that Rady Children’s Hospital impose policies and procedures for how to treat transgender youths.
Dear Dr. Kearns,
Katharine Prescott has reported that her son was mistreated while under the care of staff at your facility, Rady Children’s Hospital. Less than 24 hours after admitting her son to the unit for psychiatric care, he had to leave the facility due to distress caused by gender discrimination. It is alleged that employees of your hospital referred to the child, who legally had a name and gender change, as a female despite his mother’s insistence that he be treated as a boy.
Six weeks after this incident, Prescott’s son took his life. Whether your staff used improper pronouns on purpose or not does not negate the fact that a terrible mistake was made and needs to be remedied. Prescott is not blaming you for the death of her son but rather wants you to take responsibility for the poor treatment the boy received and make sure no more children suffer discrimination under your care. We demand that you immediately implement new procedures which dictate how staff should treat transgender youths.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jlscott