An Arizona CVS Pharmacist was fired after refusing to fill transgender woman’s hormone therapy prescription.
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union published a blog post written by Hilde Hall in which she described the emotionally disturbing event that took place in April. Hall had just left the doctor’s office eager to receive the medication that she said would finally “affirm my identity.”
Instead of receiving the medication prescribed by her doctor, Hall left the pharmacy empty handed and holding back tears because the pharmacist refused to fill the prescription. Hall wrote:
He did not give me a clear reason for the refusal. He just kept asking, loudly and in front of other CVS staff and customers, why I was given the prescriptions. Embarrassed and distressed, I nearly started crying in the middle of the store. I didn’t want to answer why I had been prescribed this hormone therapy combination by my doctor. I felt like the pharmacist was trying to out me as transgender in front of strangers. I just froze and worked on holding back the tears.
Hall proceeded to ask for her prescription back in order to fill it at a different pharmacy but the pharmacist refused to hand it over. Hall wrote, “I left the store feeling mortified.” Hall told her doctor’s office about the situation with CVS and the office staff reached out to the pharmacy. The pharmacist still refused to fill the prescription without giving a reason. Hall’s doctor’s office sent a new prescription to a Walgreens, where it was filled.
Hall contacted the CVS corporate complaint line “multiple times” but her complaints were ignored. Hall filed a complaint with the Arizona State Bored of Pharmacy on Thursday asking for CVS to “publicly take action and apologize.” On Friday, CVS released a statement, which said the pharmacist had been fired. The statement said, “CVS Health extends its sincere apologies to Ms. Hall for her experience at our pharmacy in Fountain Hills, Arizona last spring.” The statement went on to say that Hall’s complaints were not addressed due to “unintentional oversight.”
However, Hall is asking for more than an apology. In her blog post, she calls for change:
My family supports me, fortunately, and helped me work through the anger and humiliation this experience caused. But many other transgender people are not as fortunate as I am. I don’t want to think about what might happen if this pharmacist mistreats a transgender person who does not have a good social support system.
Hall went on to say:
Through training and written policies, the company needs to make it clear to their employees — especially their pharmacists — that transgender customers deserve respect. No healthcare worker should rely on personal beliefs to reject decisions made by doctors and their transgender patients about medically necessary care.
ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Joshua Block emphasized the importance of the pharmacy’s statement and decision to fire the pharmacist during the Trump administration. Trump currently has plans to roll back a policy that protects transgender and non-binary people from discrimination in the health care industry. Block said, “No one should be denied health care because of who they are. It is critical that CVS ensures no one is harassed when taking a valid prescription into one of their pharmacies.”
This incident comes less than a month after another Arizona woman said a Walgreens pharmacist refused to fill her miscarriage prescription due to his “moral objection.” In a June statement, Walgreens said pharmacists are allowed to not fill a prescription based on moral objections but they must give it to another pharmacist to fill.