Fighting for the Rights of an Incarcerated Transgender Woman in Missouri

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April 5, 2017
Lambda Legal client Jessica Hicklin

Yesterday, Lambda Legal asked a federal district court to order the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) and Corizon LLC (Corizon), which MDOC contracts to provide healthcare at its facilities, to provide medically necessary, doctor-recommended health care for the treatment of gender dysphoria for Jessica Hicklin, a 38-year-old transgender woman incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri.

“Defying the recommendations of mental health and medical experts, the Missouri Department of Corrections is denying Jessica Hicklin critical and potentially life-saving care. The policies behind this cruel decision, including MDOC’s ‘freeze-frame’ policy, are discriminatory and unconstitutional and must end immediately,” said Demoya Gordon, Transgender Rights Project Attorney for Lambda Legal.

“By continuing to deny Ms. Hicklin medically necessary treatment, Defendants are putting her at serious risk of permanent harm. Their ‘freeze-frame’ policy serves no other purpose than to single out transgender people for discrimination.”

Ms. Hicklin is asking for immediate access to hormone therapy, permanent body hair removal as well as access to gender-affirming canteen items – all recommended by her doctors as part of her treatment in accordance with the prevailing standards of care.

Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Hicklin last year challenging Defendants’ discriminatory “freeze-frame” policy, which bars the treatment of inmates and others in custody who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria if they were not receiving treatment prior to incarceration.

A number of federal courts have held that such “freeze-frame” policies violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Today, Lambda Legal has requested relief for Ms. Hicklin during the pendency of her case.