Valerie Kloosterman, a physician assistant with University of Michigan Health, was fired when she asked for a religious accommodation when dealing with “transgender”-identified patients. She did not want to be forced to use transgender pronouns or refer patients for body-damaging, experimental “transitioning” procedures.

Michigan Health mocked her faith and called her “evil” for not believing gender ideology. Then the hospital fired her, after 17 years of exemplary medical service.

Now, Kloosterman is fighting back with a lawsuit, alleging that the Michigan Health violated both the U.S. Constitution’s and the Michigan Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of religion and speech.

Metropolitan Hospital hired Kloosterman in 2004, “the third generation in her family to work for her local health care system, and a married mother of four, including triplets,” the complaint says, adding that she “received nothing but positive reviews and accolades from her superiors, her colleagues, and her patients.”

The hospital became affiliated with Michigan Health in 2021, when the trouble began, as Kloosterman attended a mandatory diversity training.

Michigan Health “attempted to compel Ms. Kloosterman to pledge, against her sincerely held religious convictions and her medical conscience, that she would speak biology-obscuring pronouns and make referrals for ‘gender transition’ drugs and procedures.”

This was an entirely theoretical situation, as she had not encountered patients with sexual identity confusion in her work, but the hospital was insistent. After her refusal:

[Michigan Health] summoned her to a meeting, during which they denigrated her religious beliefs, called her “evil’ and a “liar,” mockingly told her that she could not take the Bible or her religious beliefs to work with her, and blamed her for gender dysphoria-related suicides.

The complaint continues:

They fired her on August 24, 2021, without even allowing her to finish her patients’ charts for that day, to collect her belongings, or to say farewell to beloved colleagues and patients.

Michigan Health clearly showed animosity and hostility toward her faith. They accommodated other employees, such as those who refused to prescribe diet pills or opioids, but “did not consider or provide to Ms. Kloosterman any accommodation for her religious beliefs.”

The suit says this violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Michigan’s civil rights law, which protect against religious discrimination in employment:

If not for Ms. Kloosterman’s religious beliefs about gender and sexuality, she would not have been fired. The hospital officials’ explicit attack on her religious beliefs provides direct evidence that her termination was the result of unlawful religious discrimination.

Her decision not to cooperate with “gender transition” interventions, was based on her faith and her medical expertise:

Ms. Kloosterman is a devout Christian and longtime member of a United Reformed Church, which she has attended since her baptism as an infant. Ms. Kloosterman’s church is part of a denomination called the United Reformed Churches in North America. She is a faithful and involved member of the church, attending regularly with her husband and their four children, as well as her parents and other members of her extended family. …

[She] believes, consistent with the teachings of the Bible and her church, that all humans are created in God’s image and thus deserving of love and respect.

Ms. Kloosterman also believes that God created humans male and female as a unique expression of His image. These beliefs derive from the Bible, specifically Genesis 1:26-27.

Using drugs, hormones and surgery to destroy perfectly healthy bodies also violates good medical practice and the Hippocratic Oath she had taken, swearing to “do no harm” to her patients. The lawsuit explains:

Ms. Kloosterman’s independent medical judgment is that “puberty blockers,” “hormone therapy,” and “gender reassignment surgery” are experimental, lack validation in methodologically rigorous long-term studies, and often lead to negative clinical outcomes such as bone density loss, infection, nerve damage, chronic pain, loss of sexual and urinary functions, psychological trauma, and other serious complications.

In September, after she was fired, First Liberty sent a letter to Michigan Health explaining how they had violated Kloosterman’s freedom of speech and religion.

Because of their lack of response, they now face a federal lawsuit. First Liberty Counsel Kayla Toney said:

It is blatantly intolerant of Michigan Health to demand that medical professionals like Valerie abandon their religious beliefs in order to remain employed. Valerie loves her community and her job. She is devastated that the University of Michigan health system derided her beliefs and demanded that she choose between her faith and providing health care.”

Related articles and resources:

First Liberty

Daily Citizen