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The Indiana Daily Student

politics

Indiana Department of Correction sued over a law banning gender-affirming surgery for prisoners

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit Monday challenging an Indiana law banning gender-affirming sexual reassignment surgeries for anyone imprisoned in Indiana, after the state’s correctional agency denied a procedure for an incarcerated transgender woman.

The Department of Corrections denied the surgery based on House Bill 1569, which took effect July 1. The law bans the spending of state or federal dollars on sexual reassignment surgery for those imprisoned in Indiana.

“The DOC cannot deny necessary treatment to incarcerated people simply on the basis that they are transgender,” said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk in a statement. “To do so is a form of discrimination.”

The ACLU of Indiana filed the lawsuit after transgender female prisoner, Autumn Cordellioné, who is imprisoned in the all-male Branchville Correctional Facility, was denied surgery.

[Related: Martinsville appeals transgender bathroom decision, draws support from Todd Rokita]

Cordellioné was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2020 and prescribed a female hormone and testosterone blocker. The prison allowed her to wear bras, underwear, makeup and form-fitting clothing, but not to have gender-affirming surgery, according to court documents.

“Her gender dysphoria and the continuing debilitating symptoms that she suffers because of it represents a serious medical need that must be treated,” lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

Cordellioné has asked a judge to issue an injunction so she will be able to have the operation.

The ACLU of Indiana lawsuit against the DOC claims that this law is in violation of the Eighth Amendment by denying necessary surgical care to a transgender prisoner based on their status as a transgender person.

Indiana does provide mental health services such as routine interventions, crisis management, addiction recovery services and special needs services, according to the IDOC.

[Related: ACLU of Indiana challenging new law requiring bystanders to stay 25 feet away from police activity]

Indiana also passed Senate Bill 480 that bans a physician or practitioner from knowingly providing any gender transition procedures to a minor or aiding another physician in providing gender transition procedures to a minor.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the Department of Corrections denied a procedure for the inmate. 

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