Transgender inmates in Georgia will be eligible to receive hormone therapy treatments while in prison, Georgia corrections officials said on Friday as they contend with a lawsuit filed by a transgender prisoner denied hormones.
Ashley Diamond, 36, filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia in January, challenging its refusal to provide her hormone treatments and asserting that she was placed in unsafe facilities with violent men.
The U.S. Department of Justice last week sided with Diamond, arguing in legal papers that denying the hormone treatments amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that led to physical pain, muscle spasms and loss of breast mass.
Courts across the United States have wrestled with the question of what treatment prisons must provide to transgender inmates. Also last week, a federal judge ruled that California must provide sex reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate.
Diamond, convicted on burglary and other charges in 2012, lived as a woman and took hormones before going to prison, the lawsuit said.
Under the new Georgia policy, which officials said took effect on Tuesday, inmates diagnosed as possibly having "gender dysphoria," a condition in which a person feels they are not the gender they physically appear to be, will be given medical and mental health evaluations and will be put on treatment plans ensuring their well-being.
"We are pleased to learn that the Georgia Department of Corrections has rescinded its prior, unconstitutional policy," David Dinielli, a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represents Diamond, said in a statement on Friday.
The group is reviewing the new policy, he added.
U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell, speaking during a hearing on Diamond's case on Thursday, called the new Georgia policy a "tectonic shift" despite it not resolving all the issues in the lawsuit, the Macon Telegraph newspaper reported.