APRIL 02, 2010
A Wisconsin law that bans using taxpayer money for transgender prisoners’ costly hormone treatments violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, according to a federal court ruling that kills a state measure passed with ardent bipartisan support.
Denying convicted male felons hormones that help them look like women violates both the Eighth Amendment’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to equal protection, according to U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert who ruled on the matter this week.
In a three-page order, the Clinton-appointed judge asserts that “there is no rational basis” for the Wisconsin law which “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.”
With the help of a famously leftwing civil rights organization, a group of male inmates who identify as female challenged the law by claiming that they need the hormones to treat their gender identity disorder and not having them would lead to severe health problems.
The measure, which also prohibits the Department of Corrections from using tax dollars to pay for inmates’ sex-reassignment surgery, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2007.
The surgery is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $20,000 and the inmate, convicted in 1993 of murdering his wife, claims that his gender-identity disorder is a serious illness that can lead to severe anxiety, depression, suicide attempts and self-castration. Denying this treatment for a “medical necessity” would violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, according to his lawsuit.
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