Michigan transgender inmates to receive taxpayer-funded hormone therapy

Michigan transgender inmates to get state help
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 08:19:38-04

The Michigan Department of Corrections has revised a policy to allow transgender inmates to receive hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery while incarcerated.

The money will be coming out of the state department of corrections' health care budget, which is funded by taxpayers.

The policy went into effect last month.

The original policy allowed inmates who were already receiving hormone therapy to continue while in prison.

"Providing a safe and humane environment for all of our prisoners, no matter how they identify," said Chris Gautz, MDOC spokesperson. "We need to be respectful of that."

This comes after the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center approached the department on behalf of a transgender inmate who was seeking hormonal therapy.

The groups say not providing that care is cruel and unusual punishment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center stated:

"Without such care, transgender people may experience gender dysphoria – the distress associated with the conflict between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender. It puts them at risk of anxiety, depression and suicide."

Gautz couldn't give us a clear answer to what would be deemed medically-necessary because it would be determined by a committee on a case-by-case basis.

"They would meet with our health care staff for a comprehensive evaluation and an individual plan would be generated for those diagnosed as gender dysphoric."

The costs would come from the department's health care budget, which is funded by taxpayer money.

Hormone therapy is at least $50 per month--per prisoner.

"The cost of hormones would be far less than if we did nothing at all and prisoners all started suing for the rights to this," Gautz added. 

A specific treatment plan will be put together for the prisoner.

A plan could include specific living conditions, like a single cell, access to toilets and showers with some privacy and gender-conforming clothes and other items.

Right now, there are about 50 transgender inmates out of 40,000 prisoners across the state.