Yoakam v. Virginia Department of Corrections, et. al.

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Status: Open
Court:
The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Issues: Criminal Justice, Health Care Fairness, Transgender Rights

Lambda Legal represents Jason Yoakam, a transgender man incarcerated at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW) in Troy, Virginia. The Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) has denied a bilateral mastectomy, or chest surgery, for Jason on the basis that it is not medically necessary. VDOC has also denied requests that Mr. Yoakam receive mental health care for treatment of gender dysphoria from qualified mental health providers and other reasonable accommodations.

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Lambda Legal represents Jason Yoakam, a transgender man incarcerated at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW) in Troy, Virginia. The Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) has denied a bilateral mastectomy, or chest surgery, for Jason on the basis that it is not medically necessary. VDOC has also denied requests that Mr. Yoakam receive mental health care for treatment of gender dysphoria from qualified mental health providers and other reasonable accommodations.

In August 2017, health care providers at Fluvanna diagnosed Mr. Yoakam with gender dysphoria. As part of his treatment, Mr. Yoakam has received hormone therapy ans was provided with a binder for his chest. However, VDOC denied a bilateral mastectomy, or chest surgery, for Mr. Yoakam on the basis that it was not medically necessary. Mr. Yoakam continues to suffer from severe gender dyphoria and experiences depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep and appetite disturbances, and physical pain related to his chest. In his pre-teen years, Mr. Yoakam began to bind his chest, a practice he continues to do today--which has caused him bleeding scarring, and pain. His treating endocrinologist and a transgender health specialist at the University of Virginia have deemed chest surgery medically necessary treatment for him.

Mr. Yoakam contends that the denial of surgery violates the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment's porhibition on cruel and unusual punishment and that denying medical treatment on the basis of his transgender status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Mr. Yoakam also raises statutory claims under the Americans with Disability Act and under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act based on his disability of gender dysphoria, a medical condition that some transgender people experience as significant distress when their gender identity is not congruent with the sex assigned at birth. The lawsuit also brings a claim under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, a nondiscrimination provision in the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in health care setting based on sex.