My whole life, I never felt in sync with who I am. I struggled a lot with feeling right in my own body. So many things were uncomfortable and intrusive. I couldn’t just be myself.

Like many trans people, doctors and medical facilities have not always been safe or supportive places for me. So, in the summer of 2017, when I found a doctor who really cared about me and my wellbeing, I felt fortunate. It was thanks to the trusting relationship we developed that I was able to begin hormone therapy to medically transition to a woman—my real identity.

For the first time in my life, I was finally starting to embrace my body. My doctor and I decided that an orchiectomy—removal of the testicles, which would simultaneously allow me to lower my hormone dosage while continuing to affirm my gender identity—was an important step in my process.

St. Joseph’s in Santa Rosa is near my home and my small community of support, where I had people who could take me to surgery and be with me during recovery and take me home. My doctor had been having some difficulty scheduling the procedure, but we weren’t entirely sure why. As time stretched on, I felt increasingly nervous and anxious. Not about the procedure itself, but about the uncertainty.

In early December 2018, my doctor suggested I go by the hospital to schedule the appointment myself, thinking that would speed up the process. So I drove straight from my doctor’s office to the hospital.

I gave the people at the front desk my name, and right away it seemed like they already knew who I was and I why I was there. I noticed people looking at me and whispering. It felt like people at the hospital had discussed my case and knew my very personal medical information. It was deeply embarrassing.

Calling me “he” and referring to me as a “male,” the surgery coordinator told me that St. Joseph’s would not do the procedure because of their religious views. Because it would leave a “male” “sterile.”

I was devastated. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, but I was afraid of making the situation worse. Instead, I tried to escape as quickly as I could. Alone in my car, I sobbed the entire way home.

I felt so wronged. I was humiliated and dehumanized. I felt discriminated against, and for them to say it’s because of their religion is just unbelievable. Doctors take an oath to care for people, to respect their patients and act with sympathy and humility. This reason—this religious view—goes against that oath. A doctor is supposed to help. Anyone. I don’t understand how they can selectively choose who to help.

Not only that, but these policies cause real harm to people seeking care. Months later, I’m still dealing with the stress and trauma of this experience. I have struggled with being misgendered for much of my life. It really impacts my self-esteem and my sense of worth. And to have the very people who are supposed to care for me inflict more pain … I can’t express how agonizing it was.

We’re all human beings. We shouldn’t be treated as more or less than one another, especially by those who are supposed to help us. I am sharing my story because I want to stand my ground and be who I am, so other people aren’t afraid to do so. There aren’t a lot of role models out there for trans women. I want to live my life in a way that’s best for me, that respects who I am.