Saturday, December 09, 2023
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Lawsuit of Physician’s Assistant Fired for Refusing Transgender Directives Gets Judge’s Go-Ahead



Gender ideology often pits parents and children against common sense, but it also all too often pits medical professionals against their religious conscience.

In a ruling Sept. 20 from a federal judge in the Western District of Michigan Southern Division, the latter is playing out in real time in an important religious liberty case.

In Kloosterman v. Metropolitan Hospital, et al., Judge Jane Beckering ruled in favor of allowing  the lawsuit of Valerie Kloosterman, a physician’s assistant formerly employed at University of Michigan Health-West, to proceed after the medical organization sought to dismiss the nine claims Kloosterman made in her complaint. (According to the complaint, Metropolitan Hospital does business as the University of Michigan Health-West.)

Kloosterman was fired in August 2021 after she sought to receive a religious accommodation not to have to use pronouns that match a person’s gender identity different from his or her biological gender and to have to refer patients for gender-transition surgeries, among other things.

While Beckering granted Michigan Health’s motion on six claims, she allowed the other three, which were crucial to the merits of the case, to proceed. Those assert that Michigan Health violated Kloosterman’s First Amendment, equal protection, and Title VII employee rights.

In her decision, Beckering applauded Kloosterman’s “exemplary” employee record and recognized that her “vibrant faith informs how she does her work as a medical professional.”

Further, Beckering ruled that Michigan Health officials demonstrated “hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated her objection to the training module,” citing the Kennedy v. Bremerton School District case, which suggested that “official expressions of hostility” violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Beckering also held that Kloosterman’s Equal Protection and Title VII claims were valid. Michigan Health accommodated other medical professionals’ preferences, but not Kloosterman’s religious beliefs.

That’s good news for this particular case and others like it involving religious liberties.

In 2021, after Michigan Health held mandatory diversity and inclusion training, Kloosterman, a 17-year veteran of the organization, asked for a religious accommodation because she did not believe she could follow in good conscience the organization’s guidelines on using “preferred” pronouns and referring people for gender-transition operations.

In a meeting following the training, a diversity representative at Michigan Health reportedly called Kloosterman “evil,” even going so far as to claim she had been responsible for gender-dysphoric patients committing suicide. A few weeks later, Kloosterman was fired.

She filed her lawsuit last October.

We often hear about how gender ideology has crept into the medical establishment, but not everyone in the medical community believes health care that affirms someone’s gender identity, including cross-sex hormones and gender-transition surgery, is good for patients.

Nor does everyone in the medical community think it aligns with his or her religious conscience. This case and many others like it are proof.

Legally affirming an employee’s religious liberties claim in this regard might have a twofold benefit:

First, success in such claims reaffirms the authority of religious liberty in a culture obsessed with being politically correct.

Second, over time, standing against this type of “diversity and inclusion” training could be a means of demonstrating just how much cross-sex hormones and gender-transition surgery hurt everyone, not just the conscience of a religious person.

The more the medical community sees the reality of how “gender-affirming care” hurts people, the more members of that community are likely to develop the courage to speak out.

A case like this will be a challenge for Kloosterman and her attorneys at First Liberty, a Plano, Texas-based nonprofit public interest law firm, because this issue has become such a hot-button cause celebre and because the judge has already thrown out some claims.

Interestingly, Beckering is a judge appointed by President Joe Biden. The fact that the merits of the case were ratified is a solid demonstration that religious liberties still can and should be upheld in society.

The medical sector has been a major gateway the LGBTQ+ community has utilized to continue to advance the transgender agenda. Cases like this are vital to upholding religious freedom and exposing so-called gender-affirming care for what it is.