On December 20, the ACLU of Washington filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Washington for King County against Swedish Health Services (“SHS”) on behalf of Ari Robbins, who identifies as a transgender man. The complaint alleges SHS abruptly canceled Robbins’s chest reconstruction surgery without plausible explanation in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
According to the complaint, Robbins was “forced to continue binding for many more months, causing him physical pain that affected his schoolwork and personal life” after SHS canceled Robbins’s procedure. The complaint defines binding as “a form of medical treatment that maintains psychological well-being by allowing them to interact with the world consistent with their male identity and to see themselves and be seen by others as male.” The complaint also states that binding is painful, causing Robbins to experience “shortness of breath, chest pain, soreness, rashes, severe neck and back pain, headaches, and bruised ribs.” The complaint fails to state how SHS “forced” Robbins to continue this practice, yet alleges the “severe headaches and neck pain from wearing the binder … intensified” after the surgery was canceled. Additionally, the complaint alleges SHS caused Robbins to have to “drive to Idaho in the midst of law school final examinations” to reschedule the “much-needed” procedure.
The ACLU of Washington recently filed a similar lawsuit in federal court, alleging the parents of a 17-year-old child were “forced” to take out a second mortgage on their house and use their child’s college savings to pay for her “medically necessary” chest reconstruction surgery.