(KRON) — A transgender man took to Reddit to speak out about a local Walgreens pharmacist refusing to give him his prescribed medication, all because it “went against his religion.”
Roscoe Rike, 30, of Oakland, says he has been going to the Walgreens pharmacy on Telegraph Avenue for nearly a decade. He’s been picking up his HRT, or hormone-replacement therapy, at the same location for the past three years, always without issue.
Rike says this time was different. A pharmacist that Rike had never seen at the location before asked what exactly the medication was for, which seemed unusual.
“I told him I was pretty sure that it wasn’t any of his business,” Rike said. At this point, the pharmacist then told Rike that he would not be able to fill the prescription “due to his religious beliefs,” Rike said.
That’s when Rike thought he’d better start recording. Video from the interaction shows the pharmacist standing at the pharmacy computer.
“So right now you’re telling me that you’re going to deny me my medication because of your personal religion, you’re not my f*****g doctor,” Rike responds. The pair fall silent for a while, and a fellow customer can be heard in the background.
After another exchange, the pharmacist can be heard suggesting that Rike come back a while later, when another member of the pharmacy team would help him. The video cuts off. Rike says he refused to come back at a later time, as he had already called the store to confirm his medication was ready and had walked over to pick it up.
“At this point, I completely lost my temper and demanded to speak to a manager,” Rike said. The pharmacist walked away and a pharmacy technician called the manager to the front desk.
“The manager who arrived apologized profusely, as did a few of the other workers,” Rike said. The manager was able to give him his medication, but Rike said that’s not enough. “I don’t know about the legality of what he did, but if it was legal, we need to change the law,” Rike told KRON4.
Rike has since been in contact with the Transgender Law Center, and says he plans on filing a formal complaint with the Walgreens corporate office. Until then, he is warning fellow transgender people to avoid picking up their HRT at that location, because they could be denied care.
KRON4 reached out to Walgreens with questions about the incident. The company said it cannot discuss individual patient interactions due to privacy, but it will “review the matter.”
“Our policies are designed to ensure we meet the needs of our patients and customers, while respecting the religious and moral beliefs of our team members. In an instance where a team member has a religious or moral conviction that prevents them from meeting a customer’s need, we require the team member to refer the customer to another employee or manager on duty who can complete the transaction. These instances, however, are very rare.” — Walgreens