Court Properly Dismissed Prisoner’s Sex Claims

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A district court properly granted summary judgment against an Arkansas prisoner claiming to have Gender Identity Disorder who sought hormone therapy, a federal appeals court ruled.
     Andrew Reid filed a lawsuit claiming Arkansas prison officials improperly denied his request for hormone-replacement therapy. Reid claimed in the complaint that prison officials were indifferent to his serious medical needs.
     In February 2013, Reid claims he tried to castrate himself by cutting off his testicles. After doctors were able to save one of Reid’s testicles, Reid met with the Arkansas Department of Corrections “GID committee,” which determined that Reid did not meet the criteria for a GID diagnosis.
     Four months after the committee’s determination, in June 2014, Reid cut off his other testicle.
     In a split decision, the 8th Circuit upheld a district court’s ruling that Reid’s claims against the prison officials, in both their official and individual capacities, are barred by sovereign immunity.
     “Reid cannot establish that the defendants’ conduct amounted to deliberate indifference,” the majority wrote in a per curiam decision. “Numerous mental-health professionals have evaluated Reid, but none have diagnosed her with GID or concluded that GID treatment is appropriate.”
     Judges Roger L. Wollman and Raymond W. Gruender were the majority.
     Judge Kermit E. Bye wrote the dissent, claiming prison officials waived their immunity by ignoring Reid’s risk of harm in denying the treatment.
     “Officials are entitled to qualified immunity if they could reasonably believe their response was not deliberately indifferent to a risk of harm,” Bye wrote. “In this case, it was not reasonable for Dr. [Margaret] Rector and [Wendy] Kelley to believe they could simply send Reid back to her cell and tell her she would be fine when they knew she had previously gone on a hunger strike and mutilated one testicle.”

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