The Department of Justice filed a court brief in a Georgia district court sating the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires prisons to provide care for prisoners suffering from gender dysphoria. The brief was filed in regard to Diamond v. Owens, et al., a case where a prisoner suffering from the condition alleges the state has not provided her with the proper care. Gender dysphoria describes a conflict between a person's physical gender and the gender he or she identifies with.
Ashley Diamond was diagnosed with gender dysphoria as a teenager and over the last 20 years has taken feminizing hormones, but the Georgia Department of Corrections did not identify the condition upon her incarceration in 2012. The DOC incarcerated her in an all-male prison and denied to continue treatment after a DOC medical officer recommended that treatment be continued. Diamond was denied care per the department’s “freeze-frame” policy, which “prohibits treatment beyond the type of care the prisoner received in the community prior to incarceration,” according to the Department of Justice press release announcing the filing.
“By taking action in this case, the Justice Department is reminding departments of corrections that prison officials have the obligation to assess and treat gender dysphoria just as they would any other medical or mental health condition,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “Freeze-frame policies can have serious consequences to the health and well-being of transgender prisoners, who are among the most vulnerable populations incarcerated in our nation’s prisons and jails.”
The filing declared that freeze-frame policies are unconstitutional. Diamond, 36, underwent a significant physical change over the three years she was denied hormone therapy since her incarceration, including a distinct deepening of her voice and the growth of facial hair. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in February on Diamond’s behalf and in it spoke of “unspeakable sexual assaults” at the hands of inmates. Diamond said she was raped at least seven times and called her treatment a “gross human rights violation” and “torture.” She says prison guards did not do enough to prevent rape.
The ACLU also filed a suit on behalf of Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier sentenced to a 35-year prison term for leaking sensitive military information to WikiLeaks. Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2013 and began hormone therapy in custody two months ago. Advocates for Manning say she is still not entirely recognized by the legal system as a woman.