Transphobia in Israeli Hospital

Erez Cohen, a transgender man, is suffering from a gynecological disease that, without surgery, could lead to cancer. When he turned to Tel Hashomer hospital to get treatment, he ran into transphobic doctor and staff

Erez Cohen, a 42-year-old transgender man and a father of a 13 year old boy, is suffering from a gynecological disease that, without surgery, could lead to cancer. For half a year he’s been faced with discriminatory treatment from physicians at Tel Hashomer Hospital “Transphobia on unimaginable levels,” he says. “The doctor simply escorted me out of his room, and even the receptionists kept referring to me as a woman, after I corrected them several times”.

“Eighteen months ago I felt excruciating pain in the lower abdominal area. I felt I was not in a functioning state.” Cohen says, “There was an assumption it was a tumor, so I did a lot of tests until one of the female doctors diagnosed me with Endometriosis”. Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. In the absence of treatment, the cells spread to other areas of the body, which in doctors’ assessments could lead to the development of cancer.

Erez should’ve gone into surgery to remove the roaming cells. However, the team at Tel Hashomer hospital was transphobic, and did everything possible to not treat Erez.

“The doctor told me: As long as you don’t have all the documents- -documents from 20 years ago that are impossible to track down- -you won’t undergo surgery with me. In these words. Then he added that he does not perform surgeries on transgender people.”

“I’ve been waiting for surgery since June. I can’t seem to get through this.” Cohen says that in addition he received conflicting information about possible times for surgery. After consulting a doctor from the sex reassignment committee, he was told he had to undergo surgery urgently. The doctor himself added Erez to the top of the list for the next operations, which is expected to take place by January. In contrast, the gynecology department doctor told him a completely different story. “He told me that until January, there will be no surgeries at all, even though I know for a fact that five people have already had them,” says Cohen.

Due to the great frustration, Cohen had to end the treatment at Tel Hashomer and went to Ichilov Hospital for further treatment. “The last conversation with the receptionist at Tel Hashomer’s gynecology department was too much,” says Cohen. “It broke me. I will not be referred to as a woman. I said that I’m not interested in continuing the treatment with them, that this is all too much, and there’s a limit to how much a man can take.”

Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer commented: “Sheba Medical Center coordinates the subject of sex reassignment in recent years, with growing numbers of operations done here. We run a clinic offering comprehensive counseling in a variety of areas related to the process of changing sex, including increases in breast, mastectomy, hysterectomy and ovaries, a change in facial and vocal surgery. The subject is coordinated in the hospital by Dr. Alon Liran who is in constant touch with officials in the transgender community in order to become familiar with the needs and sensitivities from the perspective of the patients. In this context the patient arrived for treatment at Sheba medical center. In order to give him the best and most professional medical care he was referred for further inquiries and checks required to ensure the safe and proper treatment for his condition. During these steps we were informed that the patient wished to end his treatment at the hospital. We regret this and wish him every success in his future.”