In April, a transgender woman in Arizona said she held back tears when the pharmacist on duty allegedly refused to fill her prescription for hormone therapy replacement treatment.
In a blog post for the American Civil Liberties Union, Hilde Hall said she'd left the doctor's office "elated" that she'd just been prescribed hormone therapy medication, which would help her outward appearance reflect how she saw herself. Those feelings of elation quickly faded, however, when she arrived at the CVS in Fountain Hills, Arizona, only to be met with a pharmacist she said wouldn't accept the prescriptions—and wouldn't say why.
"He did not give me a clear reason for the refusal," Hall wrote on Thursday. "He just kept asking, loudly and in front of other CVS staff and customers, why I was given the prescriptions.
Hall said the experience left her "embarrassed," "distressed" and "humiliated," forcing her to fight back tears in the middle of the store. "I didn’t want to answer why I had been prescribed this hormone therapy combination by my doctor," she continued. "I felt like the pharmacist was trying to out me as transgender in front of strangers."
Hall's claims fall in line with a pattern of many cases of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions due to their personal beliefs. Last month, 35-year-old Nicole Arteaga went to a Walgreens in Peoria, Arizona—a town about 40 miles away from Fountain Hills—expecting to fill a prescription she needed to induce a miscarriage without a hitch. Instead, she found herself in the same situation as Hall: face-to-face with a pharmacist denying her the medication she needed.
The pharmacist Arteaga saw was within his legal rights to deny her the pregnancy-ending medication. Arizona is one of a handful of states that allows pharmacists the right to refuse to fill patients' prescriptions at odds with their religious or personal beliefs. In Arizona, though, the law is specific to "emergency contraception or any drug or device intended to inhibit or prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum," according to the National Women's Law Center—not hormone replacement therapy.
Attacks on transgender health have only escalated since President Donald Trump took office. In May, ACLU attorney and trans rights activist Chase Strangio explained how the Trump administration has targeted provisions in the Affordable Care Act meant to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in tandem with conservatives on the state level. These are the kinds of conditions, Strangio said, that embolden "people to turn us away from health care, to attack us in the streets, to reject us in all aspects of our lives."
Hail is filing a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy, asking that the body take steps to prevent transgender people from being refused the medications they need. She's also seeking an official response—in the form of not just an apology, but a pledge to better serve customers—from CVS, which she says has not yet responded to her complaints.
CVS's corporate communications office, reached by email, did not immediately respond to Broadly's request for comment.
“No one should have to experience what Hilde did, and yet it is all too common for transgender people and also people seeking birth control around the country," ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Joshua Block said in a statement. "It is critical that CVS ensures no one is harassed when taking a valid prescription into one of their pharmacies.”