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Hospital opens debate on gender surgery

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Hospital opens debate on gender surgery

Pullman Regional Hospital is asking for public comment on the decision to offer gender reassignment surgery.

Pullman Regional Hospital is asking for public comment on the decision to offer gender reassignment surgery.

CONNOR MCBRIDE | Daily Evergreen file

Pullman Regional Hospital is asking for public comment on the decision to offer gender reassignment surgery.

CONNOR MCBRIDE | Daily Evergreen file

CONNOR MCBRIDE | Daily Evergreen file

Pullman Regional Hospital is asking for public comment on the decision to offer gender reassignment surgery.

GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen editor-in-chief

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Pullman Regional Hospital (PRH) has sparked debate over providing gender reassignment surgery after announcing Friday that it would accept public comment on the procedure.

Following initial reports, many community members have expressed concern regarding why the hospital is asking public opinion on medical practices. Residents have voiced both support and opposition for providing these services locally.

Hospital physician Dr. Rodney Story stated in an email that he objects to gender reassignment surgery on the ethical constraint of “first do no harm,” which requires surgery to be primarily corrective and curative. He stated that gender reassignment does not meet these standards because the procedure involves removing “healthy, normally-developed genitals.”

Story stated that he urged for consideration of a delay for an open discussion of the controversial procedure during a hospital all-staff meeting on May 27.

He believes that because PRH is supported by the taxpayers of Whitman County hospital district, “PRH is beholden to the will of its citizens for the quality and scope of care which it provides,” he stated in an email.

While Story stated he has cared for many patients who consider themselves transgender, he believes surgery may give the patient “a short-term sense of relief, but ultimately surgery to correct a dysmorphic disorder is offering false hope.”

WSU assistant professor Elizabeth Siler, who is running for director of the 4th district of Pullman School District, said she believes offering the procedure addresses the needs of the transgender community in Pullman.

Siler wrote a letter to the hospital in which she stated she is surprised by the hospital’s request for input, believing there are only three factors that should determine whether the hospital should provide these services: accessibility to necessary equipment, a doctor with necessary training and a fully-consenting adult patient.

“An issue has been made that didn’t need to be made. [The decision to offer the procedure] could have been made at a board meeting,” Siler said. “This is a private matter.”

PRH Chief Clinical Officer Jeannie Eylar said as a public hospital, PRH often asks the public for help to make informed decisions.

“We felt we needed to know — as a small, rural community hospital — if we should be offering the procedure,” Eylar said.

Surgeon Geoff Stiller is training to perform gender reassignment surgery. Stiller will require additional oversight to perform these surgeries, and the hospital will record public comment prior to making a decision on offering the service, according to a news release.

Eylar explained that the hospital’s Board of Commissioners makes the ultimate decision whether to ask for public comment on hospital practices. While the board may not ask the public for comment on general procedures, she said gender reassignment surgery tends to be a complicated and complex procedure.

Stiller was informed of the decision to ask for public comment on the procedure, but he was not involved, Eylar said.

Dr. Stiller was not immediately available for comment.

Washington has 44 public hospitals, according to the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts. Eylar said no other public hospital in the state offers gender reassignment surgery.

The news release asked for comments to be sent to the hospital by mail or email. The hospital had received about 100 comments as of 11 a.m. Monday. Eylar said the comments are on both sides of the issue. Comments can be submitted to [email protected]

Eylar noted the Facebook comments will not be considered as part of the public record.

Many commenters have expressed concerns about taxpayer dollars going toward the procedure. Eylar said while the hospital does accept local taxpayer dollars, individual surgeries are paid for by the recipient’s insurance.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original version.

About the Writer
GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen mint editor

Gabriella Ramos is a junior strategic communication major from Aurora, Illinois. She is pursuing minors in business administration and French. During her...

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Hospital opens debate on gender surgery