Transgender inmate’s healthcare trial to go forward
A transgender federal inmate currently being held in Massachusetts won a major victory in court last week – in her fight to receive treatment for Gender Identity Disorder. Vanessa Adams was diagnosed with GID after she became incarcerated. But under what’s known as the “freeze frame” policy at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, because she did not ENTER the prison system with the diagnosis, she was not entitled to treatment for it.
Jennifer Levi heads the Transgender Rights project at “Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders” in Massachusetts, which represents Adams.
Levi: “She has brought an 8th amendment claim, which essentially says that she is facing cruel and unusual punishment through the deprivation of medical care to her. And there is well-established constitutional law which says prisoners are entitled to adequate medical care.
Levi says the “freeze frame” rule is unconstitutional – and ONLY applies to cases of Gender Identity Disorder, not ANY other healthcare needs.
She says Adams has taken some extreme measures as a result of being denied care.
Levi: “She tried to kill herself, she self-mutilated, she cut her testicles, and she actually eventually completely severed her penis. Incident after incident, she was denied care. In fact, on some occasions she was disciplined.”
Last week a U.S. district court judge in Massachusetts denied the government’s motion to dismiss, allowing Adams’ case to move forward. Levi says since the lawsuit, prison officials HAVE been giving proper healthcare to Adams, but without any official change in policy, and without any guarantees that they will continue to do so.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons said it had “no comment” about the case, which will likely now proceed to trial.