PHOENIX, Ariz. — The popular pharmacy chain CVS says that an Arizona pharmacist is “no longer employed” with the company after he declined to fill prescriptions relating to a gender “transition” for a man who identifies as a woman.
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) shared a story written by the customer, who goes by the name Hilde Hall. He outlined that in April, after leaving a doctor’s appointment, he went to CVS to have his first prescriptions for hormone “therapy” filled.
“I was finally going to start seeing my body reflect my gender identity and the woman I’ve always known myself to be,” Hall wrote.
The pharmacist at the Fountain Hills CVS who assisted Hall repeatedly inquired about the purpose of the prescriptions. Hall did not wish to answer and didn’t like the volume of the pharmacist’s voice, nor the fact that he was asking in front of customers and staff alike.
“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,” he stated. “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 said that the pharmacist—whose name has not been made public—would not give the prescription note back, so Hall went home and called his doctor’s office, which placed a phone call to the location. The pharmacist declined to fill the three prescriptions, but did not state why.
“My doctor ended up having to call the prescription into the local Walgreens, where the medication was filled without question,” Hall outlined. “I transferred all of my prescriptions there so that I never again have to see the pharmacist who discriminated against me.”
He also called the CVS corporate complaint line and filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy. The ACLU additionally created a petition calling upon CVS to issue a public apology, which generated over 20,000 signatures.
“No healthcare worker should rely on personal beliefs to reject decisions made by doctors and their transgender patients about medically necessary care,” Hall asserted.
On Friday, CVS issued a statement advising that the pharmacist was no longer employed by the company, remarking that “[h]is actions did not reflect the company’s values or commitment to inclusion, nondiscrimination and the delivery of outstanding patient care.”
“CVS extends its sincere apologies to Ms. Hall for her experience at our pharmacy in Fountain Hills, Arizona last spring,” it wrote. “We also apologize for not appropriately following up on Ms. Hall’s original complaint to CVS, which was due to an unintentional oversight. We pride ourselves in addressing customer concerns in a timely manner and we are taking steps to prevent this isolated occurrence from happening again.”
The company also said that it is “very proud” of its perfect score with the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index because of its policies related to “LGBTQ equality.”
“In fact, CVS pharmacists were directly involved in the development of the HRC’s resource guide for providing pharmacy care and services to LGBTQ patients,” it divulged.
Christian News Network reached out to the corporate office of CVS to inquire if the pharmacist had been fired or if he left of his own volition, but was informed, “The pharmacist is no longer employed by CVS, but [we] cannot comment on specific details of an employment matter.”
In an opinion piece for AZ Central, Téa Francesca Price suggested that those who have religious objections to synthetic hormones or abortion pills should rethink a career as a pharmacist.
“Believing and practicing one’s faith is a fundamental right in this country that, naturally, should be respected and upheld. However, religious freedom should not impede the rights of others,” she wrote. “If a pharmacist objects to medications like misoprostol or synthetic hormones because they can be used in abortions and to aid transgender individuals, they should assess whether they are right to serve in that role.”
Arizona law allows pharmacists to decline to fulfill prescriptions for abortifacients or contraceptives on religious grounds, but doesn’t mention drugs related to so-called gender transitions.