Austin Pharmacist Denies Trans Man Testosterone Prescription

Walgreens says pharmacist was uncomfortable with injection method

Tristan Martin's testosterone medication, which he was denied earlier this month (Courtesy of Tristan Martin)

With the Texas Legislature throwing all of its weight behind anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session, trans Texans have every reason to fear they’ll lose access to hormone treatments crucial to their well-being.

For Tristan Martin, a 34-year-old trans man living in North Austin, that fear became a reality last week when a Walgreens pharmacist refused to fill his testosterone prescription.

Martin says his pharmacist’s explanation for not filling his prescription was that she was uncomfortable with the doctor’s instruction that the medicine be administered subcutaneously, meaning as a shallow injection under the skin. But, as Martin explained to the pharmacist, he’s taken the same meds for four years, with the same method, and never heard such an objection. Plus, Martin said that the pharmacist was only being asked to provide the testosterone itself, not the equipment necessary to administer it. He later attempted to reach Walgreens’ pharmacy department and store manager to ask about the situation but wasn’t able to reach anyone and never got any calls back.

A store employee told the Chronicle they could not address the dispute. Tristan’s wife, Hayden Martin, said she received an apology from a Walgreens regional healthcare supervisor, after the supervisor contacted her on May 23. “He said there was absolutely wrongdoing and that it's going to get figured out,” Hayden said. “He said he was going to reach out to the higher-ups and he's going to let me know by Friday what happens.”

Hayden Martin told us she was able to contact the pharmacist in question two days after the refusal to fill the prescription. “She would not give a reason as to why she felt the doctor was wrong,” Hayden said. “And she said, ‘I'm not comfortable filling it for ‘her.’ So automatically the assumption is that it's just an issue of her not being comfortable with the fact that it’s testosterone for a trans man. So I, of course, asked her if this was the reason – because he's a trans man – and she got very defensive and denied it. And then I tried asking for her name and her license number and she said, ‘Well, that's not important information.’”

A Texas law passed in 2018 allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions on religious and moral grounds as long as they pass the prescriptions to colleagues who will fill them. Hayden said this didn’t happen for her husband. Tristan was later able to fill his prescription at a Walgreens close to the one which denied it. But he feels shaken by his experience.

“Obviously, our community is being attacked on all fronts right now, and it's very blatant,” Martin said. He pointed to Senate Bill 14, a bill soon to become law which will ban the only known medical care for minors suffering from gender dysphoria: “They're on the way to passing that here, that no youth can have any trans care. So to know that your own government, that’s supposed to protect you and know what's best for you, is fighting against you – that’s devastating.”

The Martins said they decided to speak out because of the dehumanization of trans people underway in Texas and the nation. “What we are asking for is accountability,” Hayden said, “for this person to not hide behind their license and to admit that, yes, she felt some type of way because this person is different from her, and to educate herself and to hold herself accountable. Because at the end of the day, we're all people. And I expect for my husband to be treated as such, and for other trans persons to be treated as such.”

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trans issues, Walgreens, Senate Bill 14, Tristan Martin

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