Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down State Law Banning Hormone Therapy For Transgender Inmate

U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert has handed down a fascinating decision striking down a Wisconsin law banning hormone therapy for transgender inmates.

The Court ruled that the state law violates the equal protection clause and is an unconstitutional form of cruel and unusual punishment because it denies hormone therapy without considering individual inmates’ medical needs or the judgment of their doctors.

What is most interesting is that the court applied the rational basis test, which is usually an easily satisfied test for states. Here is the court order: HormonesOrder

The Court held:

After careful consideration, the court concludes that the defendants’ application of Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) to these plaintiffs constitutes deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment inasmuch as enforcement of the statute results in the denial of hormone therapy without regard for the individual medical needs of inmates and the medical judgment of their health care providers.

The court further finds that Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) is unconstitutional on its face under the Eighth Amendment because it bans the use of any Wisconsin State resources or federal funds passing through the government to provide hormone therapy and, thereby, requires the withdrawal of any such ongoing hormone therapy for inmates in DOC facilities without regard for the medical need for that treatment.

The court further finds that Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) prevents DOC medical personnel from evaluating inmates for treatment because such evaluation would be futile in light of the statute’s ban on such hormone therapy. Furthermore, the application of Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) to the plaintiffs violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to equal protection because there is no rational basis for treating the plaintiffs differently than similarly situated inmates.
The court further finds there is no rational basis for Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) and that the statute is invalid on its face, as it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The law does seem poorly crafted in failing to consider the health consequences of cessation of such treatment. The law states that the DOC “may not authorize the payment of any funds or the use of any resources of this state or the payment of any federal funds passing through the state treasury to provide or to facilitate the provision of hormonal therapy or sexual reassignment surgery” to any inmate in a state prison, correctional
facility, or secured child caring institution, or to any forensic patient in a state institution. There is no allowance for a review of the health consequences by doctors — an obvious problem that should have been foreseen by the legislators.

For the full story, click here.

8 thoughts on “Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down State Law Banning Hormone Therapy For Transgender Inmate

  1. Perhaps Wisconsin should house the new Guantanamo?

    Think of the efficiencies: Government-licensed medical “doctors” who oversee torture in interrogations can evaluate the hormone therapy needs for Wisconsin state inmates in their off hours.

    No doubt these are the same government doctors who will be sitting on the national healthcare standards boards in 2014.

  2. This has been an issue with inmates in gender limbo. What are they suppose to do? Where are they housed. They are not safe in the general male population and they are not females for the women side. There was a case out of the Eastern Dct in Michigan that rejected a correction/amendment to a birth certificate.

    Amending Birth Certificates to Reflect Your Correct Sex
    In re Birth Certificate Amendment of John Doe

    After receiving a hysterectomy, double mastectomy, hormone therapy, a name change and a court order to amend the gender on a birth certificate, actually getting the amended certificate was supposed to be the easy part. But that wasn’t the case for one transgendered man in Virginia, who had to threaten to sue before government officials finally followed state law.


    BTW the person I helped became a school teacher. lol….

  3. Is there really a physical medical reason to do hormone therapy? Or is it just that we don’t want to hurt the inmates’ delicate psyches? I’m seriously asking…

  4. To stretch the metaphor… Some real world graffiti is brilliantly planned, wonderfully crafted art, and but most graffiti consists of thoughtless, artlessly scrawled vulgarities.

    And so it is with “graffiti legislation,” just a quick opportunity to carelessly “stick it to” some despised group. I hesitate to think that the authors of this legislation had the actual humanity to craft it with this sort of “fatal omission” built in. Occam’s Razor tells me that there was probably not a conspiracy to intentionally render the bill impotent (I crack myself up!) by the authors, but rather that this sort of nastiness is conceived of and executed by morons.

  5. Athena,
    The hormone treatment is meant for patients who are having psychological problems with the sex that they are born with. It is not just a procedure done to satisfy a whim. That is why the Wisconsin code needs to account for the doctors reports and recommendations for the individual patient.

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