A federal judge has ordered the correction officials of the state of Florida to accommodate transgender inmates.
Last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, in a statement described as “emphatic,” accused corrections officers of ignorance and bigotry, and said that Florida jailers were required to accommodate the needs of transgender persons in prison.
Until Walker’s ruling, corrections officials had been tardy or recalcitrant in aiding transgender inmates, and one transgender inmate in particular.
According to the Miami Herald, these refusals had happened “despite the prisoner’s repeated suicide attempts and persistent requests to wear bras and panties and have access to women’s grooming items.”
Specifically, under Walker’s ruling, the Florida Department of Corrections will be required to keep providing hormone injections and accommodations to the inmate Reiyn Keohane.
Keohane has been serving a fifteen-year sentence for attempted murder since 2014, and is currently incarcerated at the Walton Correctional Institution.
She was born male but began identifying as female at age eight. Feminine clothing, makeup, and hairstyles followed at age fourteen.
Since first entering the prison system in 2013 (when she entered a Lee County jail), Keohane has repeatedly requested that she be allow to “socially transition” and resume hormone therapy.
Instead, according to the Herald, “prison officials several times ‘forcibly shaved; Keohane’s head after she protested the agency’s hair-length policy, which requires men to wear their hair above the ears, according to court records. Prison workers also confiscated her self-made bras and panties.”
Following the FDC’s refusal to provide these rights to Keohane, she sued the Department and multiple prison officials.
In his statement, Walker noted that “Defendant’s deliberate denial of care — that is, the denial of access to female clothing and grooming standards despite its knowledge of her diagnosis and her history of self-harm — has caused Ms. Keohane to continue to suffer unnecessarily and poses a substantial risk of harm to her health.”