Transgender Inmate Wins Case for Continued Hormone Treatments

Transgender prisoner sought help from a judge for treatmentAn Ohio prison inmate sought the assistance of a federal judge in hopes of ordering the state to continue her hormone treatments. This inmate said she has suffered a medical setback since her treatments were cut off, including depression and facial hair growth. U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley has ruled in favor of the inmate’s request.

The transgender inmate entered prison as Antione Lee, but has lived as Whitney Lee since the age of 18. Lee had received hormone therapy continuously since 1999 until the treatments were abruptly stopped by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in February 2012. Lee has regained permission to receive hormone treatments from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, a federal judge ruled this week.

Last month a federal judge granted a provisional order which mandated the state to provide the hormone drugs to Lee. Although the inmate has lived as a woman for many years Lee is currently living with male inmates at the Mansfield Correctional Institution. This Ohio prison system refused to provide the hormone drugs, which compelled the transgender inmate to file a lawsuit.

According to a request for an emergency order filed by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center Lee, who is now 36-years-old, had received the treatments previously while at home, in the Hamilton County Justice Center and in federal prison. This includes approved estrogen treatment by prison authorities while the transgender woman was incarcerated in 2009 and 2010.

The emergency order stated without the treatments Lee’s voice deepened, she lost breast tissue, began growing facial hair, skin became rougher, among other things. The inmate then had to be put on suicide watch as she continued to become angry and overly irritable. The complaint alleged to deprive Ms. Lee of hormone treatment has wreaked havoc on her mental and physical health; ultimately put her life in danger.

The prisons department disagreed. They argued that Lee had not exhausted the prison grievance procedures and that her case should be dismissed. A prison psychiatrist determined that the inmate lacked the criteria for gender dysphoria, which is gender identity disorder. Therefore, they believe there is no justification for the therapy, according to the department.

The state said if their medical diagnosis was questioned it would be due to an issue of medical malpractice, not a violation of Lee’s constitutional right. The department also brought up other cases such as one centered on a Texas inmate where the courts confirmed the decision of the prison not to administer the treatment.

The prison system’s policy prevents hormone treatment from beginning while an inmate is incarcerated. However, it does say,

Hormone therapy prescribed for inmates in preparation for gender-change surgery or for the purpose of gender modification shall be evaluated and requires authorization by joint consultation by the chief medical officer, mental-health officer and other top officials.

An Ohio prison inmate sought the approval of a federal judge to order the state to continue her hormone treatments. Whitney Lee, born as Antione, says she has suffered several medical setbacks since her treatments were cut off. A federal judge has ruled in favor of the transgender inmate’s request. Lee is serving a three-year sentence on theft and forgery charges but is scheduled to be released from prison in October.

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)



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