Transgender Inmate Sues for Hormone Therapy

NEW CASTLE, Ind. (CN) – A transgender prisoner in Indiana is being wrongfully denied needed hormone therapy treatments, according to a lawsuit she filed against the prison and its medical staff.

Rebecca Haviland, who is currently serving a 60-year murder sentence in the New Castle Correctional Facility, claims that the operators and medical staff of her prison have denied her medically necessary hormone treatments.

According to the complaint filed Friday in Henry County Circuit Court, the requested hormone therapy treatments are for Haviland’s gender dysphoria, which is defined as “a conflict between the person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which they identify.”

Haviland claims her condition has reached such serious levels that her mental health has been damaged, leading to suicidal thoughts and two occasions where she attempted to cut off her genitals.

The lawsuit names as defendants GEO Group Inc., Corizon Health Inc., Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Robert Carter Jr., Dr. Michael Person and Department of Correction employee Esther Hinton.

“Defendants continue to discriminatorily and without any reason rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest deny Ms. Haviland hormone therapy to treat her gender dysphoria, causing Ms. Haviland to continue to suffer mental trauma and self-harm,” the complaint states.

The complaint claims that the denial of treatment violates Haviland’s constitutional Equal Protection rights and federal disability laws. She seeks compensatory and punitive damages and a court order allowing her to begin the treatment.

Haviland claims the treatment was originally approved by the prison on July 9, 2015, but the decision was later revoked four months later. The prison affirmed the revoking in a July 2016 decision, claiming “risks outweigh the benefits,” according to the lawsuit.

The prison also allegedly told Haviland, “You are currently under the care of Mental Health Staff as well. Therefore, at this time, usage of hormone therapy is unavailable due to the Providers medical recommendation.”

Haviland’s complaint disagrees with the prison’s belief regarding the risks, and claims that according to a 2011 decision by the Seventh Circuit in the case of Fields v. Smith, there is “no evidence of uncertainty about the efficacy of hormone therapy as a treatment.”

Haviland is represented by Fort Wayne lawyer David Frank with Christopher C. Myers & Associates.

Pablo Paez, vice president of corporate relations for GEO Group Inc., told Courthouse News that “GEO does not provide nor are we involved in the provision of medical care at the New Castle Correctional Facility. Medical services at the facility are delivered by a separate private provider under a contract between the State and that provider; GEO is not part of said contract.”

Martha Harbin of Corizon Health declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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