Former Illinois Army National Guard enlistee Liam Papworth has filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ( IDHR ) against Dr. Lawrence Gottlieb and UChicago Medicine, alleging anti-trans medical discrimination.
Papworth told this publication in an email statement that he was denied phalloplasty surgery by Gottlieb after he provided the doctor with what he said was the proper documentation during his Jan. 28, 2020 consultation appointment. He added that this documentation included letters from the required two separate therapists that he got through the Gender Affirming Letter Access Project.
The IDHR complaint that Papworth faxed on July 9 ( signed and dated July 8 ) was also provided to this publication.
Papworth stated in the complaint, "My surgery was denied in violation of state policy despite my being a perfect candidate for the surgery."
Additionally, the complaint stated that another transgender man had a consult scheduled with Gottlieb for phalloplasty surgery and that person received a phone call stating that his consultation appointment was canceled and Gottlieb was no longer performing this surgery. Papworth told this publication in an email statement the above information about the other patient.
The complaint also alleges PTSD discrimination against Gottlieb and stated the following, "I have a PTSD DX on paper. Dr. Gottlieb made an allegation against me [that] I would kill myself after surgery because of the diagnosis."
Prior to filing the IDHR complaint, Papworth received a letter dated June 17 from UChicago Medicine's Department of Legal Affairs Professional Liability Plan Executive Director and Associate General Counsel Catherine L. Garvey that stated, "You presented to Dr. Gottlieb on 1/28/2020 for consultation for consideration of elective phalloplasty surgery. During that visit, Dr. Gottlieb obtained a history and physical examination of your forearm. Of significance, you reported active and ongoing symptoms of PTSD as a result of your time in the military and trauma as a child.
"You reported that you were self-medicating with cannabis to treat these symptoms, and you advised Dr. Gottlieb that you were not receiving ongoing mental health care to treat the PTSD. Dr. Gottlieb told you that without established and regular mental health treatment for this condition, you would not be not an appropriate surgical candidate. He also referred you to Dr. Richard Carroll at Northwestern, a psychiatrist to whom he has referred similarly situated patients for over 25 years, for assessment of the appropriateness of phalloplasty surgery. We understand from your voicemail that you did not seek treatment from Dr. Carroll. As you know, you have not been seen by Dr. Gottlieb at any time before or after your single visit on January 28, 2020."
The letter also confirms what Papworth told Windy City Times about the two letters from licensed professionals referring him for surgery and stated "during your consultation visit in January, Dr. Gottlieb declined to approve and schedule the requested surgery based upon his clinical assessment at that time. In his professional judgment, you were not an appropriate surgical candidate for this elective procedure for the reasons stated above, which were discussed with you during your consultation."
In the IDHR complaint, Papworth stated that he also filed multiple complaints with Garvey's office and that the above quoted letter contains "a falsified statement of the events that occurred at the consultation. When I tried to contact them and get them to understand that falsifying a medical record is not only a felony, but I can prove they falsified it, they [would] not even reply to my calls or emails."
When Windy City Times reached out to UChicago Medicine about Papworth's allegations against Garvey, UChicago Medicine Communications Executive Director Lorna Wong emailed the following statement. "While HIPAA prevents us from discussing contents of the letter, we deny Mr. Papworth's allegation."
The IDHR complaint contains a question about mediation as a remedy. Papworth checked the "yes" box stating that he would like to pursue that option with the other party.
Papworth also provided this publication with proof of his medical cannabis card and the doctor's authorization letter. He stated in an email that this "disproves the claim from UChicago Medicine that I am 'self-medicating' with cannabis. These documents show that my primary care physician is approving and monitoring my cannabis consumption as a PTSD patient. My ID card shows the card was issued on 8/22/2019. I have also included the receipt showing proof I legally paid for my cannabis card."
This publication reached out to UChicago Medicine with the following questions: Why did the letter say the phalloplasty surgery was elective when that is not the case for transgender patients who are seeking gender confirmation surgery? Why did Dr. Gottlieb require Liam to see a psychiatrist when he already had the required letters from two different therapists to proceed with the surgery? Why did Dr. Gottlieb say Liam was not an appropriate candidate for this surgery? UChicago Medicine officials sent back the below email response on behalf of the hospital:
"We are unfortunately unable to discuss the specific details of Mr. Papworth's care due to patient privacy. The University of Chicago Medicine is committed to providing the best possible care to transgender and gender-nonconforming patients. We have been repeatedly recognized by the HRC Foundation as a leader in health equality for our treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. Dr. Gottlieb has performed phalloplasty surgery at UChicago Medicine for over 30 years.
"UChicago Medicine adheres to the standards of care set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health ( WPATH ). To that end, the decision to perform surgery on any given patient involves the medical judgment of the surgeon after careful consideration of the patient's individual history and medical conditions."