December 18, 2015 / 12:08 PM / 4 years ago

Transgender Arkansas inmate denied right to sue prison-court

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - A transgender Arkansas inmate in a men’s prison who castrated herself cannot sue prison officials for refusing to provide hormone therapy to assist her efforts to change genders, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The court in a panel decision said Arkansas prison officials had heeded the advice of their medical professionals in declining to provide the inmate with hormone therapy and thus did not display “deliberate indifference” to her complaint, the court said.

The inmate, Andrew Reid, 31, is serving a 30-year sentence for murder. The appeals court used the feminine pronoun “she” in discussing Reid.

Reid attempted to castrate herself in February 2013 and was rushed from prison to a hospital, where doctors saved one testicle. Reid later succeeded in severing the remaining testicle, according to court documents.

In affirming the lower court’s finding, the appeals judges agreed that the state and its prison employees enjoyed sovereign immunity from lawsuit absent substantial proof of a constitutional rights violation.

“Reid does not suggest any actions that the defendants could have taken to prevent her from inflicting self harm other than providing estrogen-replacement therapy, treatment to which she is not entitled under the law,” the appeals court said.

The majority noted that the prison had continued to provide Reid with mental health care.

A dissenting judge wrote that prison officials “deliberately ignored the high risk Reid would harm herself” following the first attempt at castration and should not be immune to litigation. (Additional writing by Jon Herskovitz)

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