The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana today filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) for denying gender affirming surgery to a transgender woman who is currently incarcerated. The IDOC is acting as a result of a new law passed during the 2023 legislative session HEA 1569, which forces the IDOC to deny necessary gender-affirming medical care to incarcerated transgender people.  

The lawsuit claims that the new law violates the Eighth Amendment, as the Supreme Court has ruled denial of necessary medical care for incarcerated individuals is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Medical care related to transgender patients has been found by every reputable medical organization to be necessary and even lifesaving. The courts have consistently found that people who experience gender dysphoria cannot simply be denied care.  

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that HEA 1569 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

“The DOC cannot deny necessary treatment to incarcerated people simply on the basis that they are transgender. To do so is a form of discrimination,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “Gender-affirming care is life-saving care. If the legislature can deny a form of healthcare arbitrarily, they could just as easily deny other lifesaving treatments to people who are incarcerated.” 

Today’s lawsuit is the fifth lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Indiana against legislation passed during the 2023 session.  

“Some Indiana legislators are introducing more and more radical agendas, often pushed by misinformation and out-of-state extremists,” said Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana director of advocacy and public policy. “These legislators are not only ignoring their constituents’ values, they are often ignoring legal precedent and opting to pass laws that openly infringe on Hoosiers protected rights. It is not uncommon for us to file a lawsuit or two at the end of each legislative session, but the number of lawsuits we have had to file as a result of harmful legislation passed during the 2023 legislative session is particularly alarming.”