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Fed Judge Orders IL Prisons To Cater to Trans Inmates, Let Them Choose Housing

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In a controversial decision in Illinois, a federal judge has ordered the state’s prisons to adjust their policies for transgender inmates, including allowing them to choose which prison they’re housed in and to receive taxpayer-funded hormone therapy.

According to The Hill, a lawsuit was filed by Janiah Monroe, who identifies as a woman and has been incarcerated in men’s prisons, given his biological gender, since he was 19.

Monroe was one of four clients identifying as women who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in their suit against the state of Illinois. In the suit, Monroe alleges he was sexually harassed by both staff and other inmates.

He also claimed that he was denied treatment for gender dysphoria in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.

In a 39-page decision issued earlier this month, Judge Nancy Rosenstengal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, an Obama appointee, said the Illinois Department of Corrections needed to make significant changes to how it handles transgender inmates.

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This includes, but isn’t limited to, ordering Illinois to “cease the policy and practice of denying and delaying hormone therapy for reasons that are not recognized as contraindications to treatment, ensure timely hormone therapy is provided when necessary, and perform routine monitoring of hormone levels.”

The state also most “cease the policy and practice of depriving gender dysphoric prisoners of medically necessary social transition, including by mechanically assigning housing based on genitalia and/or physical size or appearance.”

It also states the Illinois Department of Corrections must “develop a policy to allow transgender inmates medically necessary social transition, including individualized placement determinations, avoidance of cross-gender strip searches, and access to gender-affirming clothing and grooming items.”

“This is a sweeping victory for our clients, who have been subject to unspeakable harm by a Department of Corrections that has truly been deliberately indifferent to our clients’ suffering,” said Ghirlandi Guidetti, one of the clients’ attorneys.

Do you think transgender inmates should be housed in the prison of their choice?

”We look forward to ensuring that [Illinois Department of Corrections] complies with the order without any delay so that all prisoners who have gender dysphoria in Illinois will receive humane and professional treatment.”

Monroe had already been moved to a women’s prison in April.

“The Court recognizes that these changes will take time, but it in light of the serious deficiencies in IDOC’s treatment of transgender inmates set forth above, the undersigned seeks assurance that progress is underway,” Rosenstengal wrote in the order.

“There is a long way to go, and the issue must be promptly addressed.”

The court order is another controversial decision in the brave new world involving the treatment of transgender individuals in prison, both medically and otherwise.

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In terms of medical treatment, it depends on how necessary you believe it to be. There have been conflicting rulings on gender reassignment surgery and the Eighth Amendment, which is the closest analog to look at in this case.

In terms of letting prisoners pick where they’re housed during their sentences, this opens a Pandora’s box, and not just because of transgender individuals.

Rosenstengal’s ruling doesn’t lay out what the criteria for deciding who can go in which prison based on what they call their gender identity.

Will there be a thorough vetting? Will Klinger from “M*A*S*H” count? If it’s closer to the latter than the former, what you’re doing is exposing individuals to danger from sexual predators who’ll take advantage of the new regulations.

That’s the invariable problem here. We’re in terra nova, yet the courts want the nation’s correctional systems to accommodate transgender prisoners despite a paucity of experience in the matter.

Given the situation, there’s such a thing as moving with deliberate speed here, particularly given the security concerns and the taxpayer money being used. We’ve yet to fully resolve what transgender treatment means under the Eighth Amendment and whether or not there are going to be attendant difficulties in integrating transgender individuals into facilities that don’t match their biological sex.

There’s a lot riding on this, including virtually countless as-yet unknown unintended consequences. It’s important to get it right.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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