Judge rules that IDOC must change medical care for transgender prisoners


EAST ST. LOUIS — A federal judge ruled this week that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) needs to overhaul its medical care of transgender prisoners.

Earlier this year, five transgender women prisoners sued the IDOC because of inadequate medical care.

St. Louis Public Radio reported that the ruling is a preliminary injunction.

The ACLU said in a press release that the order requires IDOC to immediately cease the policy and practice of allowing its “Transgender Committee” (no members of which have any experience or expertise in treating gender dysphoria) to “make the medical decisions regarding gender dysphoria.” The order also requires IDOC to stop any delay in providing hormone therapy and to provide materials that facilitate prisoners’ social transition, including gender-appropriate clothing and personal grooming products.  

The decision also ends the practice “mechanically” assigning housing based on “genitalia” and/or physical size and appearance.  

“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. We look forward to ensuring that IDOC complies with the order without any delay so that all prisoners who have gender dysphoria in Illinois will receive humane and professional treatment,” said Ghirlandi Guidetti, staff attorney of the LGBTQ & HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois.

The order also calls for: 

  • Allowing transgender prisoners access to health care providers who meet the competency requirements stated in the WPATH Standards of Care to treat gender dysphoria
  • Allow inmates to obtain evaluations for gender dysphoria upon request or as a result of clinical indications
  • A new IDOC policy to allow inmates medically necessary social transition, including individualized placement determinations, avoidance of cross-gender strip searches, gender affirming clothing and grooming items
  • Training for all IDOC correctional staff on transgender issues, including the harms caused by mis-gendering and harassment.

St. Louis Public Radio reported that the suit is still ongoing and does not have a trial date. A preliminary injunction is only granted to prevent irreparable harm during a trial and when it’s likely that the parties requesting the injunction could win.



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