Health care in prisons must cover transgender people, judge rules

A transgender woman serving time in federal prison could become the first inmate to receive gender-affirming surgery under a recent ruling by a federal judge.

The judge ordered the US Bureau of Prisons this week to provide a detailed timeline showing how it will ensure that Cristina Nichole Iglesias receives by year’s end the gender-affirming surgery she has been seeking throughout several years of litigation.

“This is something that’s long overdue,” said Alexis Rangel, policy counsel for the National Center for Transgender Equality, based in Washington, DC “We recognize that trans folks who are incarcerated have a fundamental right to appropriate care, and they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to access that care while on the inside.”

Gender-affirming care, particularly in regard to youth, has been increasingly under attack by lawmakers out of concern that young people might make life-aging decisions they might come to regret. Federal prisons are required to cover the costs of all necessary health care treatments for inmates under the US Constitution.

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