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Detransitioner sues Catholic hospital for transgender surgery as pope denounces 'gender theory'

Affiliated plastic surgeon didn't tell her risks she might experience after breast removal, suit says. Vatican questions "scientific coherence" of gender theory, which aids "ideological colonization."

Published: April 8, 2024 11:02pm

As the Roman Catholic Church becomes more outspoken against the surgical removal and refashioning of healthy breasts and genitals to treat gender dysphoria, the Oregon affiliate of a Catholic hospital network stretching from Alaska to Texas faces litigation for performing "gender affirming" surgery on a woman who regretted it.

Providence Milwaukie Hospital, affiliated plastic surgeon Tina Jenq and her Oregon Cosmetic and Reconstructive Clinic committed professional malpractice against Camille Kiefel by rushing her into a double mastectomy without safeguards, the detransitioner's lawsuit says.

The 33-year-old, who identified as nonbinary from 2015 to 2022, is seeking $3.5 million in damages on the argument the defendants violated their "duty of reasonable care" toward her, including through "false and misleading" statements that Kiefel was transgender, "desires chest masculinization surgery" and had discussed "viable alternatives" to surgery with Jenq.

The surgeon did not tell her about the most troubling risks of the surgery, such as "inclusion cysts in the reconstructed tissue ... lack of sexual function, and the inability to breastfeed," as well as worsening of her mental health conditions, the suit also claims.

Contrary to Jenq's notes, the surgeon "did not review Kiefel’s past medical history or obtain mental health clearance prior to surgery from Kiefel’s regular psychotherapists" affiliated with Providence Medical Group, which documented her mental health problems but didn't diagnose her with gender dysphoria, according to the suit, filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

The hospital scheduled the surgery, and Jenq performed it, the suit says. "Providence Health & Services [Oregon], PMH, and OCRC are vicariously liable for the actions and omissions of Dr. Jenq," other employees and agents.

OCRC's breast feminization and chest masculinization pages focus on assuaging patients that aesthetic concerns and physical limitations will resolve themselves within two months of surgery. They do not mention the surgery's possible effect on mental health.

"Kiefel has a history of trauma, impulsivity and self-harm, and carries cognitive and sensory diagnoses, including generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, [post-traumatic stress disorder], and [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]," the suit says. 

"Kiefel's diagnoses include sensory symptoms, such as vomiting due to the texture of foods, being unable to find comfortable clothing and experiencing discomfort with the movement of her breasts, leading to her feeling discomfort and dissociation with her body," it says. 

While the suit doesn't use the term, Kiefel's physical discomfort more closely resembles body dysmorphia than gender dysphoria. She previously told Just the News she found physical health treatments and diet changes improved her mental health but talk therapy did not.

"We are unable to comment on ongoing litigation," Providence Portland Medical Center said. Jenq's OCRC did not respond Monday.

The Providence network's mission page cites a Bible verse for each value it holds. "As expressions of God’s healing love, witnessed through the ministry of Jesus, we are steadfast in serving all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable," it says.

The Vatican Monday released a 66-page declaration, five years in the making and approved for publication by Pope Francis, that gives its most full-throated opposition to date to gender theory, "whose scientific coherence is the subject of considerable debate among experts."

Gender theory plays a "central role" in "instances of ideological colonization" that invent new rights at odds with traditional human rights, and is "extremely dangerous since it cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal," the wide-ranging "Human Dignity" document says.

It decrees that "all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected."

Exactly how prevalent gender-affirming treatment has been in Catholic healthcare settings is difficult to determine.

The Jesuit magazine America reported last June, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops started the process of formalizing a ban on both hormonal and surgical treatments, that "most Catholic hospitals already refrain" from such interventions.

A 2023 report by the Lepanto Institute, which seeks to expose wolves in sheep's clothing in the Catholic Church, claimed the nation's largest Catholic healthcare system, CommonSpirit, advertises hormonal gender-affirming services or referrals in nearly 40 locations.

More than half of those offer employees a "transgender health plan" and two provide "sex-change surgeries," the report said.

Refusing such treatments can get Catholic hospitals in legal trouble, though. A federal judge ruled in January 2023 the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center violated state law by saying no to a hysterectomy for a woman who identifies as a man, Newsweek reported.

Rhode Island parent activist Nicole Solas, known for her flurry of public records requests related to gender ideology in Ocean State school districts, told Just the News she had never heard of a Catholic hospital performing such procedures but wondered whether the legal threat might explain it.

"If so, it would be in line with other Catholic institutions violating Catholic principles," the lawyer wrote in a direct message. 

She noted Rhode Island's Providence College reportedly disciplined two philosophy faculty for asking "job candidates about their professional philosophical views on the morality of gender reassignment surgery for minors." 

Last week, however, the Catholic institution released a lengthy statement on the "sacredness of human sexuality." It rejected the idea that "maleness and femaleness are mere biological facts with no necessary connection to gender or other identity" and called "sexed bodies" integral to human love and participation "in the life of the Trinity."

In December 2023, Multnomah County Circuit Court resurrected Kiefel's prior lawsuit against the mental health professionals who recommended the surgery after less than two hours of remote consultation, including a phone conversation required for Medicaid coverage. 

Referenced throughout the Clackamas County lawsuit, the Multnomah County suit was funded initially by the Women's Liberation Front. It received publicity boosts from self-proclaimed transsexual adult performer Buck Angel and Kiefel's testimony before the Florida Board of Medicine ahead of its ban on gender-affirming treatment for minors.

Her current lawyer, Benjamin Boyd, told Just the News he just filed notices of intent to seek default judgment against the defendants in the resurrected suit to compel them to file answers. 

He's seeking approval to file an amended complaint bumping up the damages from $850,000 to $3.5 million, clarifying original claims and adding a new claim for "abuse of a vulnerable person" and permitting such abuse.

Kiefel's "mental impairments" left her unable to "work for most of 2018, all of 2019, and 2020" and thus "extremely vulnerable to manipulation, emotional entanglements, and harm which lead to impulsivity, difficulty following through, a compulsive need to please others, and vulnerability to intimidation," the amended complaint says.

Asked whether he knew of other Catholic healthcare institutions performing gender-affirming surgeries, Boyd said: "It's troubling."

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