Arizona woman Hilde Hall has testified to a nightmare experience at a CVS pharmacy where she had gone in April to fill her first prescription to begin her hormone therapy treatment. Hall’s story comes just one month after an Arizona Walgreens pharmacist legally denied abortion medication to a woman who’d found out that her baby no longer had a heartbeat.
In a blog post on the ACLU’s site, Hall describes being shamed by a pharmacist who denied her medication for no particular reason:
After years of working to affirm my identity in a world where transgender people are questioned constantly about how well they know themselves, the pharmacist refused to fill one of the prescriptions needed to affirm my identity.
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.
Not only was she denied the medication, she says, the pharmacist refused to return her doctor’s prescription. She says her doctor called the pharmacist, who still refused to provide the medication, so her doctor had to call it into Walgreens.
In the post published Thursday, Hall claims that she made several attempts to reach CVS’s corporate complaint line but received no answer. Today, CVS told Jezebel that the pharmacist, who “violated company policies and does not reflect our values” is no longer employed at the company and that CVS “extends its sincere apologies to Ms. Hall.”
“We also apologize for not appropriately following up on Ms. Hall’s original complaint to CVS, which was due to an unintentional oversight,” a spokesperson wrote via email. “We pride ourselves in addressing customer concerns in a timely manner and we are taking steps to prevent this isolated occurrence from happening again.”
While it’s explicitly legal in Arizona for medical practitioners and pharmacists to deny emergency contraceptives and abortion pills based on moral and religious grounds, there are no specific laws concerning hormone therapy drugs, which is why it’s important for companies like CVS to self-regulate, ACLU of Arizona spokesperson Steve Kilar told us. And Hall’s is not an isolated case.
“These are common medications that pharmacies fill for all people who are not transgender every day for a variety of medical conditions,” Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) told Jezebel in an email. “But there is still enough stigma and hostility toward transgender people that even common, prescribed medications are denied or the patient is harassed if they believe someone is transgender...it is not uncommon.”
Federal legislation looms. In April, Trump administration officials had announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will be revising an Obama-era rule prohibiting medical practitioners from denying treatment based on gender identity. Given Jeff Sessions’s undiscriminating and dependable hatred of most of his fellow humans, advocacy groups like the NCTE are bracing for the worst.