To the board of Pullman Regional,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the issue of trans-gender surgeries, and to the prospect that your hospital will soon begin offering them. While we are appalled that you are even considering this, we really do appreciate the fact that you are taking public comments beforehand, in contrast to the way Gritman Hospital decided to do it.
We believe that for you to begin offering such surgeries is misguided, unethical, and wrong, for the following reasons.
I want to begin by noting the complex tangles that will be ushered in if you do this thing, complexities that we are manifestly not prepared for. What such a surgery does is remove a perfectly healthy, functional organ, doing so in an irreversible way. This is being done on the basis of the expressed subjective desires of the patient, or perhaps the patient’s parents or guardians. Objective damage for the sake of a subjective desire. What happens when the later changes? Can the former change back?
Here are some questions we do not believe you are in a position to answer. If you have thought through these issues, we would appreciate seeing the policies you have drafted in anticipation of such issues arising.
- At what age will a patient be eligible for this procedure at your hospital? If a 15-year-old comes to you, with the agreement of his parents and with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a medical professional, will you perform the procedure for him?
- If parents from the Mideast, here for grad school at WSU, bring their daughter to you with a request for a clitectomy, will you perform this procedure? If you refuse because it is “genital mutilation,” how would you justify this refusal? How would that not be Pullman Regional passing judgment on one form of genital removal while endorsing another form of genital removal? Why is Pullman Regional in charge of other people’s subjective reasons? Why are you rejecting an elective surgery in one instance, and performing an elective surgery of a similar nature in another? Why is Pullman Regional endorsing the subjective reasoning of someone who is sexually confused while rejecting the subjective reasoning of a culture that is sexually repressed? If you are doing this for the sake of simple “pluralism,” then you will soon discover that pluralism around the globe—with regard to genital surgery— extends much farther than what you are currently considering.
- Would you be willing to preserve boys’ voices for choral performances by this means? Would you be willing to supply the music department with castrati?
It is easy to retort with an indignant “of course not!” But why not? Over the years, different societies have valued different things over against the continued health of some people’s sexual organs. It seems bizarre to us that people are willing to maim women for their false ideal of feminine chastity. It seems bizarre to us that there was a time when choral music had such a high value that they were willing to sacrifice sex organs for the sake of purity of voice. And in just the same way, subsequent generations will stare at us in disbelief. So they made eunuchs because they wanted custodians for the harem. We want to cater a profound emotional, psychological, and spiritual confusion.
- Will Pullman Regional perform other elective surgeries that remove other healthy organs or limbs on the basis of the subjective desire of the patient? If someone wants to “identify” as an amputee, will you accommodate them? If you are willing to remove healthy organs or limbs for some patients but not others, what standard are you using to discount one subjective preference while endorsing another? Like it or not, elective amputations are now a thing. Will you accommodate them when they arrive on the Palouse? If you will not, what will be your rationale for accommodating some and not others? What standard are you using?
- Is Pullman Regional trained and staffed to deal with the possible medical complications that can arise from such surgeries?
Such procedures are now certainly legal, and so you can establish them in your hospital without fear of legal reprisal. But because nature has been defined and fixed by God, the science on this cannot be reversed, undone, or overturned by any of our courts. The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being. So you are in the process of establishing a misguided surgical procedure as a result of pressure from a cultural fad. This is not happening because of any medical or scientific breakthroughs in which we discovered that XX and XY chromosomes don’t govern what we thought they did. And when the fad has passed, when the frenzy is over, what will you say to those who ask if you can “put it back?”
So what this move does is bring a heated partisan conflict into a place that should be dedicated to healing and rest—a hospital is not a place into which we needed to expand our culture wars. I have had to deal with the practical effects of this kind of thing before. The medical establishment has discredited itself whenever it has embraced certain partisan projects, setting the science aside in order to do so. For example, when the medical establishment went along with the inexcusable taking of human life through abortion, this had the effect of turning many decent people away from the medical profession as a whole. As a pastor, I have often lamented the risks that some of my parishioners have taken through home-births, or using unqualified midwives. But what was it that caused them—ordinary, decent people—to lose faith in the medical establishment? Why would they risk using an untrained midwife? Well, at least incompetent midwives don’t kill babies on purpose, the way certain certified medical doctors have decided to do.
This is a similar issue. You cannot start taking money in order to do irreparable damage to perfectly healthy organs and not have normal people conclude that you have no idea what it is that doctors ought to be doing. Here some troubled people are coming to you, and you are willing to take their money to perform an irreversible procedure that will not do what they are hoping it will do. Instead of helping them—which doctors are required by oath to do—you will be taking advantage of their confusions in order to make money off of them.
In addition, you are not just removing healthy organs. You are (in effect) removing healthy medical professionals who will want nothing to do with this sort of corruption and compromise. A hospital has to work as a unified team, with a clear mission set before that team. Once you start taking in mammon payments in order to harm clients (let us no longer call them patients), you will discover that a number of your doctors, nurses, and support staff still have a functioning conscience. And because discipline is an inescapable concept (it is not whether you discipline, but rather which group you discipline), you will find that what you have done is make your hospital an inhospitable place for compassionate and talented believers—men and women who are still dedicated to the arts of healing, not maiming. And when you lose them, the quality of care that your hospital can offer will go down.
It will surely be said at some point that we are offering this perspective because we are conservative Christians who believe the Bible, but that you are a secular hospital in a pluralistic town, and that you are not obligated to follow the Scriptures. But the Scriptures are simply God’s directions for living in the world that He made. The world was created by Him to run in particular ways, and Scripture says that He cannot be mocked—a man reaps what he sows. Groups of men—such as hospitals—do the same.
Minister, Christ Church