Doctor's office prescribes treatment to cure lesbianism

A 36-year-old Florida resident files formal complaints against the office that told her God could help her change.

Published February 3, 2006 6:00PM (EST)

Via Pandagon: Thirty-six-year-old Florida resident Jaime Beiler went to the doctor for a bronchitis checkup back in March of last year, making an appointment with a physician's assistant because her regular doc was out of town. At the end of the appointment, the physician's assistant, Dawn Pope-Wright, left an envelope for Beiler at the reception desk. When Beiler opened the envelope, she found "photocopied pages including Bible verses that denounced homosexuality and asserted God can help her change," the Associated Press reported Friday.

In case you hadn't guessed, Beiler is a lesbian. But she didnt go to the doctor to discuss anything related to her sexuality, nor did the issue of sexual orientation come up during her appointment. However, Beiler's lawyers point out that her sexuality was noted in her medical file. (Is asking patients' sexual orientation standard practice in some health plans? I can't recall ever being asked to answer that question, but maybe Beiler's health plan has a different policy.)

Beiler says that when she called the doctor's office to complain about the "ex-gay" documents she had received, the physician she spoke to, John R. Hartman, blew off her concerns.

With help from lawyers at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Beiler filed state complaints against Pope-Wright, Hartman and her insurer, Cigna HealthCare, at the end of last week. The complaint notes that "the information that Ms. Pope-Wright gave to Ms. Beiler was derogatory and offensive, and completely disrespected her right to dignity and privacy." Um, we should say so.

To read more about ex-gay treatments and their consequences, check out Salon national correspondent Mark Benjamin's great series on the subject, here.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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