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Worker Sues Catholic Employer for Refusal to Cover Son’s Gender Surgery

PeaceHealth Medical Center, Bellingham (Google Street View)
PeaceHealth Medical Center, Bellingham (Google Street View)

According to news reports, the parents of the Bellingham boy are feeling “betrayed.”

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cheryl Enstad, her husband Mark and son Pax, over her employer declining to cover her son’s gender reassignment surgery.

Pax, 17, wishes to transition from a boy to a girl. Enstad has worked as a medical social worker for 20 years for the Catholic-based PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Bellingham.

According to the Seattle Times, the ACLU’s federal suit says PeaceHealth is violating the Affordable Care Act, which reportedly covers such operations. They also claim the organization is violating the state’s discrimination laws.

Pax, who is a senior in high school, was reportedly diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria.’ That condition is a conflict between a person’s gender identity and their sex assigned to them at birth.

PeaceHealth says it does not offer any such transgender services in any of it’s plans, and critics say Enstad should have known that when she began working for the company, and when her child was born. Supporters of the organization also question why the family waited so long before now challenging the company’s insurance plans. They say although the decision for the surgery was recently made, the family had to know well in advance the company’s policy towards covering such operations.

The ACLU suit is significant, because instead of state or superior, it was filed in Federal Court in Seattle.

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