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.