Judicial Watch • Laser Hair Removal A Constitutional Right For Transgender Inmate

Laser Hair Removal A Constitutional Right For Transgender Inmate

Laser Hair Removal A Constitutional Right For Transgender Inmate

JANUARY 26, 2012

In a classic “only in America” case, a federal court has found that prison officials in one state violated a transgender inmate’s constitutional rights by refusing to provide taxpayer-funded laser hair removal treatments.

The bizarre case comes from Massachusetts where a male inmate, who identities as female, is serving a sentence at a correctional institution in Norfolk. The criminal, Christine Alexander, was diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” in 2003 and receives hormone replacement therapy and psychological counseling as he progresses “towards feminization.”  

As if this weren’t outrageous enough, Alexander also wants taxpayers to finance the cosmetic beauty treatment of laser hair removal because in his case it’s medically necessary, according to his attorneys. That’s because the inmate has a rare medical condition, according to court documents cited in a legal report this week; he “suffers from facial and body hair, and male pattern baldness.”

Evidently prison officials drew the line and refused the laser hair removal, so Alexander sued in federal court, claiming that corrections department officials are violating his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Alexander asserts in his complaint that the failure to provide him with laser hair removal (referred to as “medical treatment”) will lead to serious bodily harm, untreated mental illness and continued depression.

A federal judge in Massachusetts agreed, ruling that Alexander’s allegations are sufficient to establish that he has a serious medical need (presumably for laser hair removal) which has not been adequately treated under the Eighth Amendment standard. Appointed by Richard Nixon in 1972, the judge (Joseph Tauro) found that prison officials knew of Alexander’s need for “medical care” yet failed to provide it.

Many states across the county spend thousands of taxpayer dollars annually to provide transgender inmates—diagnosed with gender identity disorder—with hormone treatments, hair removal, makeup and women’s underwear. A few years ago a separate Massachusetts inmate, convicted of murdering his wife, sued the Department of Corrections to pay for an expensive sex-change surgery, claiming that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body.  

For a couple of years Wisconsin was the only state with a law prohibiting the Department of Corrections from using tax dollars for transgender inmates’ hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery. The measure was legally challenged and overturned by a federal court in 2010, however. The Clinton-appointed judge who heard the case ruled that denying convicted male felons hormones that help them look like women violates both the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments. Only in America!  

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  • Carmine

    The author, previous commenters, and other readers should learn more about what it means to be transgender. Would you deny an inmate treatment for OCD that drives them to scratch gaping wounds in their body? Therapy and medication may be “expensive”, but preventative treatment is cheap in comparison to the medical costs to fix the results of *not* treating OCD. The same is true for a transgender person—but there *is* no effective psychological therapy.

    Transition through hormone therapy (and more) is the only effective treatment for gender dysphoria, and it is one of the most effective medical treatments throughout medicine—rating higher on satisfaction and lower on regret rates than even liver transplants! Transgender women are not drag queens. Most drag queens and most crossdressers have male gender identities. Trans women *are* women, and these medical treatments are the only effective way to relieve gender dysphoria.

    A transgender woman is born with a male body, but her physical brain structures resemble those of a natal female, and she will typically develop a female gender identity. These are both physical aspects of the brain and psychological aspects of the mind. Other than the physical body’s development as a man, a transgender woman /is/ a woman!

    Gender dysphoria is the cognitive dissonance provoked by the incongruity of a male body with a female gender identity. These feelings drive an estimated 40-60% of transgender individuals to attempt suicide at some point in their lives. For comparison, less than 2% of the general population attempts suicide, and much has been discussed recently about the significant problem of gay male suicide, which a recent study estimated to be 12%. The costs of suicide attempts run into the tens of thousands—-making electrolysis cheap in comparison, eh?

    The few women who grow slight blonde mustaches go through significant body-image problems, anxiety, and depression. Can you imagine how it makes a woman feel to have whole swathes of thousands of dark, course hairs all across her cheeks, chin, and neck? Shaving does not “fix” this problem, by any means. Large numbers of dark hairs leave a shadow **underneath the skin** no matter how closely you shave! Covering beard shadow with concealer is impractical and unhealthy for most skin types.

    The APA and the AMA have both released clear statements that hair removal, in addition to hormone therapy, is medically necessary—*not* cosmetic!—for trans women.

    The cost, as you complain about, is actually entirely reasonable! The link below shows some estimated costs (0.004% of typical healthcare costs), and I’ve seen suggestions that trans health benefits cost about $60,000 on average through a lifetime. This is easily a tenth the cost of some of the most common medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, or obesity! The costs of transition are pennies next to hundred dollar bills when we talk about asthma. The only reason we discuss this at all is due to the lack of knowledge and education about transgender issues.


  • 68bronco

    This type of ruling by a liberal progressive judge is just another step in shredding the original intent of our Founding Fathers. It is simply beyond any stretch of reason that a case like this is even allowed to proceed. This types of cases should be immediately dismissed. Yet, on the other hand, real serious rights such as the right to keep and bear arms and freedom of speech are constantly being attacked by these same liberal progressive judges. And it seems to me that very few of Americans care or even understand the danger their freedoms are in.

  • maiingan07

    Oh my goodness! Can’t he shave like the majority of women do in this country? It’s a heck of a lot cheaper! My question is what do they do in female prisons, what are their rules for shaving? Are they even allowed? Just a thought.

  • Kamaatz

    Give me a break. The prisioners are not there to be pampered. The judge was out of order.

  • kylefclark

    And one wonders why these idiots with a law degree are the fuel for so many jokes. American taxpayers aren’t laughing at this outrageous stupidity though!

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