Transgender woman sues Massachusetts Department of Corrections for treatment in male prison

Transgender woman sues Massachusetts Department of Corrections for treatment in male prison

An unnamed transgender woman being held in an all-male prison in Massachusetts filed suit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday alleging unfair treatment.

The lawsuit, filed by GLAD Legal Advocates and Defenders [advocacy website] in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website], names the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Commissioner Thomas A. Turco III, MCI-Norfolk [official website] Superintendent Sean Medeiros, Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator James M. O’Gara Jr., and Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Clinical Services Stephanie Collins.

Jane Doe’s claim alleges that defendants have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment [text] through discriminatory actions, failure to accommodate, and irrational explanations of her treatment in the Norfolk institute. Jane Doe asserts that she has been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, which requires a specified treatment plan to cope with the difficulties of being born one gender, while having experiences of another. The ADA and Rehabilitation Act require the correction institute to not only provide proper treatment plans, but to also adhere to them. The corrections institute does, however, have the ability to deny requests and treatments based on “rational reasoning.” According to Jane Doe and her attorneys, Norfolk irrationally failed to provide this specified treatment or allow Jane Doe to attempt treatment for her medical diagnosis.

According to Jane Doe, her experiences at the corrections institute have fallen short of her desired treatment plan, where she gives testimony of daily interactions with inmates and officers. GLAD asserts,

They have traumatized her by forcing her to live in a male correctional facility, subjecting her to strip searches by male correctional officers, forcing her to shower in view of male prisoners who inappropriately comment on her female breast development and otherwise harass her, and refusing to address or refer to her using female pronouns.

Through events mentioned above, GLAD claims that this is in full violation of Jane Doe’s treatment, which requires she have the opportunity to live life as a female, especially considering she has undergone reconstructive surgery and now appears as a woman. Accordingly, GLAD provides other claims where Norfolk had previously accepted the requests and treatments of Jane Doe by allowing her to shower with other transgender inmates, yet these actions have been denied since then and she returns to the public showers with other men.

GLAD also noted that Jane Doe has been experiencing Gender Dysphoria since she was a child, where she received diagnosis as a teenager and then maintained family support through adhesion to the proper treatment plans provided by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) [advocacy websites]. Jane Doe claims that she has undergone proper treatment for at least four decades, but her treatment in the Norfolk corrections facility has been abandoned and she now fears future mental and physical harms.