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Judge: ‘Plausible’ case of discrimination of transgender man at Minnesota hospital

Judge: ‘Plausible’ case of discrimination of transgender man at Minnesota hospital
airview Southdale Hospital, Edina, Minn.
airview Southdale Hospital, Edina, Minn.

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has ruled that a transgender man has a “plausible” case that he was discriminated against and mistreated during a visit at a Minneapolis-area hospital.

Jakob Rumble, who’s identified in court records as a “female-to-male transgender man,” said his gender identity was disregarded when he went to the emergency room at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. He said he was “traumatized by the whole experience.”

The Star Tribune reports the ruling is believed to be the first extensive federal court analysis on a section of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits sex discrimination in health care.

Transgender Law Center staff attorney Sasha Buchert called the ruling “a wonderful interpretation.”

“For the first time a federal court has determined that the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination against transgender people by a health care provider,” Buchert said.

Hospital attorneys argue in court documents Rumble wasn’t denied care and that the statute shouldn’t be applied. The hospital declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Rumble said he was in severe pain when he went to the ER with his mother in 2013. According to the lawsuit, he had inflammation in his female reproductive organs and could hardly walk.

At the ER, Rumble registered as male, but was given a wristband with an “F.”

“I was very upset,” Rumble said. “My identity was disregarded. It wasn’t like I hadn’t explained it.”

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The lawsuit says an ER doctor came 4 1/2 hours later. Rumble said the doctor asked pointed questions about his sex life, including whether he was having sex with “men, women or both.”

According to the lawsuit, the doctor examined Rumble’s genitalia “in a very rough manner.” Rumble said he was in pain, but that the doctor didn’t stop when asked, until his mother yelled, “Stop!”

Rumble was admitted to the hospital. Weeks later he got a bill that said, “Diagnosis inconsistent with the patient’s gender,” according to the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson wrote in her ruling that the doctor’s questioning of Rumble’s sex life and not stopping the physical exam on request “demonstrate that the alleged mistreatment plaintiff endured was because of Rumble’s gender identity.”

Rumble, who goes to Minnesota Community & Technical College, said he filed the suit because he doesn’t “want this to happen to other trans people.”

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