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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 17, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 16
Georgia OKs hormone therapy for Trans prisoners
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Georgia OKs hormone therapy for Trans prisoners

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Georgia prison officials have reversed their longstanding policy and will now allow Transgender prisoners to receive hormone therapy while incarcerated.

Their decision settles a lawsuit brought by Ashley Diamond, who was convicted of burglary and other charges in 2012. Diamond had been receiving hormone treatments for 17 years before she was incarcerated. She was represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Georgia prison officials initially refused her request for the medically necessary treatments, and also held her in a men's prison with violent offenders. Diamond attempted suicide and self-castration while imprisoned without medical treatment.

The U.S. Department of Justice agreed with her lawsuit, calling the state's denial of hormone treatments 'cruel and unusual punishment.' DOJ said Diamond had been subjected to physical pain, muscle spasms, and loss of breast mass as a result.

Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General for DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said that 'Prisoners with gender dysphoria should not be forced to suffer needlessly during their incarceration simply because they were not receiving care, or could not prove they were receiving care, in the community.'

Under the new policy prisoners diagnosed with gender dysphoria will receive medical evaluations and mental health counseling.

'If a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria is reached, a treatment plan will be developed that promotes the physical and mental health of the patient,' the policy states.

'The development of the treatment plan is not solely dependent on services provided or the offender's life experiences prior to incarceration.'

The decision by Georgia officials to offer hormone therapy rather than defend their prior refusal in court highlights a developing area of law in which Trans prisoners sue for rights to medically necessary treatment, including surgery.

On April 1 a U.S. district judge ruled that California must provide sex reassignment surgery for an inmate held in that state's San Quentin prison. California prison officials were already offering hormone therapy to Trans prisoners.

On the other hand, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December 2014 that a Massachusetts Trans woman was not entitled to surgery. She had also been receiving hormone therapy while incarcerated.

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