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San Diego mother of trans teen sues Rady Children's for discrimination

Katharine Prescott holds portrait of her late son Kyler.
Photo credit:
Katharine Prescott

Today, the mother of a trans teenage boy, Kyler Prescott filed a lawsuit against Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego (RCHSD) for discrimination against her son.

You may remember the story from SDGLN about Kyler, who died by suicide back in May 2015.

Kyler’s mother Katharine Prescott asserts that she took her son to the hospital a month before his death for suicidal ideation and self-inflicted bodily harm following excessive bullying and harassment by Kyler’s peers.

Once admitted to the hospital, Katharine says she made it abundantly clear to hospital staff that Kyler be identified as a boy and should be treated as such.

However, according to her statement the hospital constantly misgendered the teen, referring to the 14-year-old as a girl.

A day into his 72-hour stay, the hospital still would not listen to his mother’s pleas prompting her to accuse them of being discriminatory.

The release sent to SDGLN also states that the hospital cut Kyer’s visit short, and released him two days early.

Just over a month later Kyler died by suicide.

 His mother is being represented by the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and attorneys at Foley & Lardner LLP. 

In the complaint, filed in federal court, it states that RCHSD discriminated against Kyler based on his sex and gender identity and misrepresented themselves as a transgender-friendly facility, when they did nothing but make Kyler’s condition worse by using the wrong pronouns and treating him as a female. 

“When my son was in despair, I entrusted Rady Children’s Hospital with his safety and wellbeing,” said Katharine Prescott in a statement sent to SDGLN, “Hospitals are supposed to be safe places that help people when they’re in need. Instead of recovering at the hospital, Kyler got worse because staff continued to traumatize him by repeatedly treating him as a girl and ignoring his serious health issues. It’s painful to speak out, but I want to make sure no other parent or child ever has to go through this again.”   

Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi said that transgender children must not be made to feel like someone other than who they are, especially by those in the medical field who claim to be there for support.

“Transgender children in crisis must be able to seek help without having to fear discrimination from the very medical providers who are supposed to care for them,” said Hayashi. “What happened to Kyler is heartbreaking and must not be allowed to happen again.”

Amy Whelan, Senior Staff Attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights adds that parents leaving their children in a healthcare environment should not have worry about them doing further harm. 

“Deciding to admit your child for inpatient hospital care is one of the most difficult things a parent can face,” she said. “Hospitals have a great responsibility to provide care to all children who need it and Rady utterly failed to do that in this case.”

SDGLN has reached out to Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, but has not yet recieved a response. 

See also: A transition within a transition: learning from San Diego transgender teen Kyler Prescott's death