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Federal court allows transgender prisoners’ suit against Illinois to proceed

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A federal court in Illinois last week allowed a transgender prisoner’s lawsuit to go ahead, denying a request by the state to dismiss the class action.

Capitol News Illinois reported that the case, Monroe v. Jeffreys, was originally filed in 2018 as Monroe v. Rauner by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of five transgender women in Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) custody. 

IDOC has been the subject of multiple lawsuits by trans prisoners in recent years, alleging abuse, refusing to move trans women to women’s facilities and inadequate medical care.

In 2019, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Nancy Rosenstengel ordered the IDOC to overhaul its practices and policies for providing treatment to prisoners with gender dysphoria. IDCO has not yet implemented the great bulk of the changes the Court ordered. 

“The Illinois Department of Corrections was given a clear path forward by the Court more than a year ago – a path that would provide the basic medical care that transgender people who have gender dysphoria desperately need,” said John Knight, director of the LGBTQ & HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois. “After months of dragging their feet and ignoring the clear needs of our clients in their custody, the State instead sought to get out of the lawsuit, arguing that they were still planning and working toward providing the life-saving care that our clients urgently require. That is wholly inadequate for our clients, who continue to endure significant harm from existing Department policies.”

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