Some court rulings in recent years on transgender people’s access to gender-related medical care:
— In 2010, the U.S. Tax Court found that the costs of female hormones and sex-reassignment surgery were deductible as medical expenses in the case of a Massachusetts woman. Rhiannon O’Donnabhain, who was born a man, sued the Internal Revenue Service in 2007 after the agency rejected a $5,000 deduction for about $25,000 in medical expenses associated with the surgery, finding it was a cosmetic procedure and not medically necessary. The Tax Court found that O’Donnabhain should have been allowed to deduct the costs of her treatment for gender-identity disorder.
— In 2011, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston upheld a lower court judge who found that the state Department of Correction had shown deliberate indifference to the medical needs of another transgender inmate by repeatedly denying her request for female hormone treatments. The court found that the Department of Correction’s claim that its decision in the case of Sandy Battista was based on security concerns had been “undercut by a collection of pretexts, delays and misrepresentations.”
— In 2011, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a ruling striking down a 2005 Wisconsin law that banned publicly funded hormone therapy for a group of inmates who identify as transgender women. The appeals court found that the law violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment by denying medical treatment. “Refusing to provide effective treatment for a serious medical condition serves no valid penological purpose and amounts to torture,” the court wrote.
— In 2011, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled in favor of a former Georgia state legislative aide who was fired after revealing plans for sex reassignment. The court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Vandy Beth Glenn was the victim of sex discrimination. Glenn, formerly known as Glenn Morrison, said she was fired in 2007 after telling her boss she planned to proceed with her gender transition and would begin coming to work dressed as woman.
— On Tuesday, a U.S. district judge ordered Massachusetts prison officials to provide taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison for murder, saying it is the only way to treat her “serious medical need.” Michelle Kosilek has received hormone treatments and now lives as a woman in an all-male prison. The judge left it up to the Department of Correction to decide where she will be held after the surgery.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.