LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal court on Thursday rejected an appeal from an Arkansas inmate who sought gender reassignment hormones to transition to a woman and attempted to perform self-castration by cutting off both testicles.
A panel of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Department of Correction could not be sued for denying the inmate's request for gender reassignment treatment. The majority opinion said numerous mental health professionals had evaluated Andrew Reid, who identified as a woman, and had not diagnosed the inmate with a gender identity disorder.
Reid represented herself in the lawsuit claiming that Eighth Amendment rights requiring adequate medical care had been violated. According to the court record and a handwritten affidavit in the complaint, Reid attempted to self-castration in February 2013. Doctors were able to save one testicle, but during recovery Reid severed the remaining testicle and underwent emergency surgery.
During the medical treatment a panel required to evaluate inmates claiming to have gender identity disorders evaluated Reid and determined she did not meet the criteria. Reid sued alleging "deliberate indifference to medical needs, unsafe conditions, and sexual discrimination."
A federal judge ruled in favor of the department officials saying they were protected from the lawsuit. Reid appealed to the 8th Circuit in October.
Department of Correction spokeswoman Cathy Frye said she could not comment on ongoing litigation.
According to the department's policy on gender reassignment, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is required before an inmate is allowed to start hormone replacement therapy. If an inmate has been diagnosed prior to being incarcerated, the department will continue the therapy unless a mental health or medical professional says to stop treatment.
A lone judge who dissented in the appeal decision said the state was unreasonable in providing no further treatment to the inmate and ignored the likelihood the inmate would harm herself again.
"In this case, it was not reasonable for (prison officials) to believe they could simply send Reid back to her cell and tell her she would be fine when they knew she had previously gone on hunger strike and mutilated one testicle," Judge Kermit Edward Bye wrote in his dissent.
Reid pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2008 baseball bat beating death of a man in Marshall, 110 miles north of Little Rock.