Incarcerated Transgender Woman’s Rights Violated: Department of Justice Sues Utah Department of Corrections

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Utah Department of Corrections has been sued by the Department of Justice after it was found that a transgender inmate’s rights were violated. The DOJ alleges that the state, along with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, discriminated against the inmate based on her disability, gender dysphoria, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the complaint filed by the DOJ, the incarcerated transgender woman repeatedly requested hormone therapy but was denied equal access to healthcare services by the Utah Department of Corrections. In addition, the department failed to make reasonable modifications to its policies and practices to accommodate her gender dysphoria. The lawsuit also claims that the department denied the inmate’s requests for female clothing, modifications to pat search policies, and housing accommodations.

The requests for these accommodations and treatments were made by the inmate from September 2021 until May 2023. The situation escalated when the inmate resorted to dangerous self-surgery, resulting in the removal of her own testicles, hospitalization, and additional surgery. The Department of Justice is now seeking the adoption or revision of policies by the defendants to better address the needs of incarcerated individuals with gender dysphoria at the Utah Department of Corrections.

Gender dysphoria is a medical condition characterized by significant distress caused by a misalignment between an individual’s assigned sex at birth and their gender identity, according to the DOJ. The lawsuit highlights the importance of providing comprehensive and inclusive healthcare services to prisoners with gender dysphoria.

This lawsuit brings attention to the ongoing struggles faced by transgender inmates within the U.S. prison system. It underscores the need for greater awareness, understanding, and accommodations for individuals with gender dysphoria who are incarcerated. Addressing these issues not only helps ensure the rights and well-being of transgender prisoners but also promotes a more inclusive and equitable criminal justice system overall.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the treatment and rights of transgender individuals within the criminal justice system. Advocates argue that providing appropriate care and support for transgender inmates is essential in order to avoid further marginalization and discrimination. As this lawsuit unfolds, it becomes an opportunity to spark conversation and drive improvements in how prisons and correctional facilities address the needs of transgender individuals.