U.S. Judge Orders Georgia to Provide Trans Inmate w/ ‘Breast and Buttock Padding’

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(Ken Silva, Headline USA) A U.S. district judge has ordered the Georgia Department of Corrections to provide one of its inmates with “breast and buttock padding” in a lawsuit over the state’s alleged lack of healthcare for transgender inmates.

U.S. District Judge Michael Brown’s April 17 order stems from a lawsuit by an anonymous Georgia inmate, who’s seeking a sex change, a transfer to a female prison and other amenities for his “gender dysphoria.”

According to the judge’s order, the inmate is a highly violent person serving a life sentence since 1992, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2015. The inmate has allegedly attempted self-castration in 1992 and suicide in 1998, 1999, and 2017.

The anonymous inmate’s lawsuit was partially supported by the Justice Department, which argued in a January motion that sex changes are an Eighth Amendment right for inmates.

Judge Brown’s April 17 order didn’t address the sex-change issue. According to the order, Georgia is already working to facilitate the inmate’s request for gender-reassignment surgery.

“Plaintiff’s treating physician says her request for surgery ‘is being processed and will be presented to the Wellpath gender dysphoria committee,’ after which Wellpath will make a recommendation ‘to the GDC statewide Medical Director who then will make the decision on the consult requests.’ So, to the extent Plaintiff seeks an injunction requiring Defendants to provide an evaluation, that issue is moot,” the judge said.

“As for her request that the Court order Defendants to provide her gender-affirming surgery, that issue is not yet ripe, as Defendants have not completed the decision-making process and denied her that surgery,” the judge added.

The judge also declined to transfer the inmate to a female prison due to the inmate’s violent history.

Though the inmate hasn’t been identified, the judge noted that he was transferred to Phillips State Prison—a “Special Mission Facility”—in 2022 specifically because that facility was “uniquely situated to manage Plaintiff, given her history of violence both before and during her incarceration, her ability ‘to induce others to commit violence on [her] behalf,’ and her specific medical and mental.”

But while he denied the inmate’s transfer to a female prison and declined to rule on the request for a sex change, Judge Brown did order Phillips State Prison to provide the inmate with breast and buttock padding. This order was in response to the inmate’s lawsuit for more “gender-affirming commissary items” at Phillips—specifically, in inmate sought access to breast and buttock padding, makeup, wigs, and hair removal cream.

In granting the inmate’s request, Judge Brown cited the testimony of a doctor who said the breast and buttock padding were medically necessary.

“Dr. Lowell testified that gender-affirming cosmetic items are medically necessary because ‘they decrease that extreme distress that’s associated with gender dysphoria,’ and advised that … they should provide these items in the meantime to alleviate Plaintiff’s symptoms. She was a credible witness. Her testimony also makes sense,” the judge said.

“If all the parties agree that Plaintiff needs bodily feminization to ease her dysphoria symptoms … it seems they should also agree that she should receive cosmetic items that can provide some level of that relief in the interim,” the judge reasoned.

The Georgia DOC argued that some of the items requested by the inmate posed a security concern. The judge agreed that wigs and makeup could be a security concern, but deemed the other items to be fine.

“The Court ORDERS Defendants to provide Plaintiff access to breast and buttock padding and hair removal cream,” he concluded.

The Georgia DOC has appealed Judge Brown’s order.

The case is also still open while the DOC considers the inmate’s request for a sex change. To that end, an April 24 status report said the matter is still under review.

“The Wellpath Gender Dysphoria Committee convened on February 20, 2024, and again on April 16, 2024, to discuss Plaintiff John Doe. The Committee met again on April 16, 2024, and reports that they have asked Dr. Daniel Miller of Wellpath to locate an appropriate surgeon to schedule an evaluation for Jane Doe. Dr. Miller is in the process of locating a surgeon that could handle this type of surgery to schedule an evaluation,” the status report said—identifying the inmate both as John and Jane Doe.

The parties are set to update the court again by May 24.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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