Justice Department Concludes Utah Department of Corrections Violated ADA in Treatment of Transgender Woman with Gender Dysphoria

Justice Department Concludes Utah Department of Corrections Violated ADA in Treatment of Transgender Woman with Gender Dysphoria

The Justice Department announced today its findings that the Utah Department of Corrections (UDOC) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the case of an incarcerated transgender woman.

The department’s investigation revealed discrimination based on gender dysphoria, as UDOC failed to provide equal access to health care services, specifically hormone therapy, despite repeated requests from the complainant.

Gender Dysphoria and ADA Protection

Gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition causing distress due to incongruence between assigned sex at birth and gender identity, is protected under the ADA.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized that individuals with disabilities, even those in custody, have the right to reasonable modifications and equal access to medical care, including those with gender dysphoria.

Unnecessary Barriers to Treatment

The investigation found that UDOC imposed unnecessary barriers to gender dysphoria treatment, not mandated for other health conditions, causing delays in the complainant’s care.

Even when providing hormone therapy, UDOC failed to ensure safe and effective treatment, contributing to the worsening of the complainant’s condition during incarceration.

Failure to Grant Reasonable Modifications

UDOC further violated ADA by denying reasonable modifications requested by the complainant.

These included the ability to purchase female clothing, altering pat search policies, and individually assessing housing requests to prevent discrimination based on gender dysphoria.

The lack of accommodation resulted in a deterioration of the complainant’s condition, leading to self-surgery to remove her own testicles.

Remedial Measures and Broader ADA Efforts

The Justice Department outlined remedial measures in its notice to UDOC to address the ADA violations.

This investigation is part of broader efforts by the Civil Rights Division to combat discrimination against individuals with gender dysphoria.

The recent statement of interest filed by the division clarifies that gender dysphoria can be a covered disability under the ADA, stressing that correctional institutions violate the Eighth Amendment when refusing medically necessary gender-affirming care.

Collaborative Handling of the Matter

The Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section is collaborating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah to address this matter.

These actions underscore the commitment to safeguarding the rights of individuals with disabilities, including those with gender dysphoria.

Information Resources for ADA and Civil Rights

For more information on the Civil Rights Division, visit www.justice.gov/crt.

Individuals seeking information on the ADA can contact the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (TTY 1-833-610-1264) or visit www.ada.gov.

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