SAN DIEGO -- A north San Diego County mother is suing Rady Children's Hospital, claiming the staff mistreated her transgender son during a suicide hold last year.
Fourteen-year-old Kyler Prescott took his own life on May 18, 2015, about five weeks after being treated at Rady. His mother, Katherine Prescott, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Rady on Monday, alleging the hospital discriminated against Kyler because of his gender, causing severe emotional distress.
On Monday, Prescott told 10News her son began to physically harm himself at the age of 12.
“There were signs, but we weren’t sure yet what was going on until he was 13,” said Kyler’s mother Katherine. “But he finally told us, ‘I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.’”
Katherine says Kyler wasn't always accepted.
“Sometimes, it was peers, but often just society in general not understanding gender identification, not understanding transgender people.”
Katherine says Kyler fell into deep depression. In April 2015, she took him to Rady, where he was placed on a 72-hour hold.
“We trusted them. They told us they would be able to properly care for a transgender child.”
Katherine claims Rady did not properly care for him. She says the staff kept referring to Kyler as a she, even though he was transitioning to a boy.
“He called me in distress, and I tried to explain to staff what was going on,” Katherine said. “And that was when they blocked my number and I couldn't call in any more. And at that point, I became extremely traumatized myself.”
Katherine removed Kyler from Rady just 24 hours into the hold. Katherine says Kyler got even more depressed. Five weeks later, he committed suicide.
Court documents say that before entering Rady, Kyler was diagnosed with gender dysphoria -- which is associated with severe depression.
When asked why she didn't take Kyler to another facility for treatment, Katherine said her experience at Rady made her feel there was no safe place to take a transgender child.
The hospital told 10News it cannot comment on legal matters, but released a statement, which reads, in part:
"Our top priority is providing the absolute highest level of care to our patients and families... Any allegations of wrongdoing, including discrimination, are investigated thoroughly and followed up on."