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January 2, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Florida, and global law firm DLA Piper LLP have filed their brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in a lawsuit defending Reiyn Keohane, an incarcerated transgender woman who had for years been denied access to medically necessary care for her gender dysphoria by the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC).

The lawsuit was filed in August 2016 after Ms. Keohane’s requests for treatment, which included both hormone therapy and social transition--access to the DOC’s female clothing and grooming standards so that she might groom and dress consistent with her gender identity--were repeatedly denied by the DOC for over two years. After the lawsuit was filed, the DOC began providing hormone therapy but continued to deny other needed care. The DOC now seeks review by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of a decision made last August by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who held that it was medically necessary for the DOC to continue Ms. Keohane’s hormone therapy and to provide her the ability to socially transition in prison, in that she must be permitted access to the same clothing and grooming standards as other female inmates.

“Social transition is a common and universally accepted form of treatment for gender dysphoria. It is standard.” stated Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida Staff Attorney for LGBTQ Rights. “The DOC has repeatedly resisted providing Ms. Keohane care at every step of the way, and their continued efforts to deny her care only exacerbate her ongoing suffering.”

In the ruling, the court held that the state prison system’s treatment of Ms. Keohane violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The brief filed today at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals argues that the decision made by the U.S. District Court should be affirmed.

“The district court recognized the serious distress, psychological harm, and assault on dignity resulting from the DOC's refusal to allow a transgender woman to live as a woman, instead, forcing her to groom as a man and even wear men's underwear,” Leslie Cooper, deputy legal director with the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “We are hopeful the court of appeals will affirm and ensure that Ms. Keohane is never again subjected to this painful treatment.”

A copy of the brief filed today can be found here:

More information about this case here: