A federal appeals court on Aug. 5 upheld a ruling that struck down a Wisconsin law banning publicly funded hormone therapy for transgender inmates.
Ruling in a case brought by a group of male inmates who identify as female, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law amounted to “torture.” Lawyers from the ACLU of Wisconsin and Lambda Legal argued that denying inmates access to hormone treatment would lead to health problems.
The state appealed after a federal judge struck down the 2005 law last year. But on Aug. 5, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said the law violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment because it denies medical treatment.
“Surely, had the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law that DOC inmates with cancer must be treated only with therapy and pain killers, this court would have no trouble concluding that the law was unconstitutional,” the appeals court judges wrote. “Refusing to provide effective treatment for a serious medical condition serves no valid penological purpose and amounts to ‘torture.’”
ACLU and Lambda attorneys praised the ruling.
“This was a discriminatory law that cruelly singled out transgender people by denying them – and only them – the medical care they need,” said John Knight, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Too often the medical needs of transgender persons are not treated as the serious health issues that they are. We are glad that the appeals court has found that medical professionals, not the Wisconsin legislature, should make medical decisions for inmates.”
— from WiG and AP reports