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Transgendered Prisoners in the United States: A Progression of Laws
College of Social Work, Ohio State University, 1947 College Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Received: 8 October 2013; in revised form: 29 October 2013 / Accepted: 5 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Abstract: In 1976, prisoners acquired the right to medical treatment from the U.S. Supreme Court through the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which forbade, in part, cruel and unusual punishment. The following year, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that medical treatment included psychiatric or mental health treatment. These rulings applied to general prisoners, but not initially prisoners who suffered from gender identity disorder. Courts ruled then that gender identity disorder was not a serious mental disorder—a critical component of the right to medical care and mental health treatment. Later, a few appeals courts ruled that gender identity disorder was a serious mental disorder, triggering a prisoner’s right to medical care and mental health treatment for this disorder. Prisoners with gender identity disorder have litigated for sex realignment surgery as part of their treatment, which prison administrators have balked. The latest ruling unequivocally ordered the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to give a prisoner suffering from gender identity disorder sex reassignment surgery, but the prison system has appealed. This ruling, and previous rulings, has furthered policy towards transsexual prisoners.
Keywords: gender identity disorder; transsexual prisoners; cruel and unusual punishment; the right to treatment
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Alexander, R. Transgendered Prisoners in the United States: A Progression of Laws. Laws 2013, 2, 428-439.
Alexander R. Transgendered Prisoners in the United States: A Progression of Laws. Laws. 2013; 2(4):428-439.
Alexander, Rudolph. 2013. "Transgendered Prisoners in the United States: A Progression of Laws." Laws 2, no. 4: 428-439.