One of our local hospitals is inviting public comment on whether or not one of their surgeons should be allowed to offer gender confirmation surgery.  Seriously?

Here is a link to the article:

http://dnews.com/local/hospital-seeks-comment-on-gender-reassignment-surgery-services/article_c07a64a1-50b8-5688-a449-130968db4337.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

Here is the letter I sent in response: 

Dear President Grantham,
I am writing in support of Dr. Geoff Stiller and his decision to get trained in gender reassignment surgery, though, to be honest, I am a little puzzled as to why you are inviting public comment. It seems to me that the decision to have any surgery is between the patient and their doctor, and that any treatment available locally would benefit both the hospital and any patients needing that procedure. Regardless, you have asked for input, and I am happy to offer some.

As a pastor, there is a question I use to guide my decision making. I ask myself, ‘What is the most loving and compassionate thing to do in this situation?’ When it comes to this surgery, the answer is clear.

Studies show that over 40% of transgender people will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Studies also show that well over 80% of transgender people who have surgery are significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives, while less than 4% had regrets. So to say that his surgery saves lives is no exaggeration.  

Given that transgender people also are more likely to struggle with unemployment and unfair compensation, I can testify that for many people, the need to travel to Seattle or another major city for gender confirmation surgery creates serious hardship. I am quite certain that having this surgery available locally will dramatically improve lives here on the Palouse. It may even save the life of a neighbor, a friend, a student, a child. Without a doubt, the most loving and compassionate response to this controversy is to move ahead with providing this essential service.

Physicians (and a hospitals) ought to be dedicated to promoting the wellbeing, physical and mental, of their patients. A person’s religious beliefs can rightly influence their personal ethical choices, but ought not interfere with professional, competent performance. It would be inappropriate and cruel to block this surgery based on a few dissenting voices.  

Thank you for taking the time to read through the public comments. I pray you will decide to make the right choice- the loving and compassionate choice.

Sincerely,

Rev. Elizabeth Stevens

Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse