04 April 2015

Withdrawing Hormone Treatment: Cruel And Unusual Punishment

In court documents filed yesterday, the US Justice Department backed a lawsuit brought by a transgender inmate.  

Ashley Diamond, a 36-year-old transgender prisoner in the Georgia system, had been undergoing hormone treatments from the time she was a teenager until her internment in a men's prison in 2012.  There, her treatments were stopped because, according to officials, she was not identified as trans in her papers.

While it's not something I support, I will say that, in fairness, Georgia's policy is like that of most other states:  Prisoners are placed according to the sex on their birth certificate and receive treatments if they are indicated as transgender.  (In 2005, Wisconsin stopped treatments for all inmates; a few other states have followed their lead.)  Still, according to the Justice Department, ending such treatment is cruel and unusual punishment.

That's not hard to see in Ms. Diamond's case:  Since the withdrawal of hormones, she has attempted suicide as well as self-castration and other forms of self-mutilation.  And she has been in a nearly constant state of depression.

Needless to say, I think the DoJ is doing the right thing.  And they have put the nation's prison systems and jails on notice that policies prohibiting treatment for new prisoners are unconsitutional.