Trans inmate sues prison for causing her “severe” distress by withholding gender-affirming care

Author: John Russell

A transgender woman who has been incarcerated in a men’s prison in Georgia has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Corrections (GDC) along with two of its for-profit medical contractors for denying her gender-affirming care.

According to the lawsuit, the 55-year-old Doe has identified as a woman since early childhood and began living publicly as a woman around 1988. Incarcerated in 1992, she has been held in Phillips State Prison since April 2022. She has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by multiple medical professionals at the facilities in which she has been housed since 1993.

She began receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in 2015 but was denied access to items that would aid her social transition. The complaint alleges that GDC staff confiscated clothing that Doe tailored to appear more feminine and shaved her head bald as her hair began to grow out.

Two physicians treating Doe have suggested she would benefit from gender-affirming surgery. “But even with these two recommendations, the administrators responsible for Ms. Doe’s care—the MHM [which provides mental health care to prisons], Wellpath [which provides mental and medical health care to prisons], and GDC Defendants named in this case—prevented Ms. Doe from accessing the surgery she needed because of GDC’s unconstitutional Blanket Ban on gender-affirming surgery,” the suit states.

As a result, Doe attempted suicide in 2017. Then, in 2019, a Wellpath employee discontinued her HRT treatment, citing “health risks (including her age, risk for blood clotting, and risk for stroke).” While experiencing “physiological distress” as a result, Doe was placed in solitary confinement due to having been sexually assaulted in 2018. She attempted suicide again in December 2019.

Due to her worsening gender dysphoria, she has continued to experience suicidal ideation and has engaged in serious self-harm. She has remained in solitary confinement, and in July 2022 she attempted self-castration.

“GDC’s Blanket Ban caused Ms. Doe’s distress over not getting the surgeries and therefore caused her to self-harm. GDC’s Blanket Ban caused Ms. Doe immense pain and suffering,” the complaint alleges.

In 2022, two additional psychiatrists employed by MHM recommended gender-affirming surgery for Doe. She has continued to be denied treatment, as well as other simple gender-affirming items. In July 2023, Doe was told by Dr. Latonya James, Medical Director at Phillips State Prison and a Wellpath employee that “GDC would never provide those surgeries, so the lawyers will have to hash that out.”

Doe’s lawsuit accuses GDC and its contractors of violating the Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. She is seeking damages and has also filed for a preliminary injunction requiring GDC to provide her with necessary gender-affirming treatment and items and to move her to a women’s prison.

In a press release this week, Doe’s attorney Scott Novak said that the “blanket ban on providing gender-affirming surgery violates not only GDC’s own policy, but also basic medical standards and the U.S. Constitution.”

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Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: John Russell

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