A federal judge last week ordered
Florida corrections officials to provide hormone treatments to a
In his 61-page ruling, U.S. District
Judge Mark Walker criticized officials who refused to accommodate
Reiyn Keohane, a transgender woman.
Keohane began identifying as female at
age 8 and had begun hormone therapy before she was convicted of
murder in 2014.
Walker ordered the Florida Department
of Corrections to continue providing hormone treatments to Keohane
and allow her to wear women's undergarments and have access to female
Keohane is serving a 15-year sentence
at the all-male Walton Correctional Institution.
In 2016, she sued the Department of
Corrections and several prison officials after she was repeatedly
denied requests to resume hormone therapy.
In a letter published by the ACLU of
Florida, Keohane wrote about her experience as a transgender woman in
an all-male prison.
“I have been forced to strip with
men, and been slapped and hit for telling the officers in charge of
the search that the rules say I must be searched separately,” she
wrote. “I have been handcuffed, thrown to the ground, and held
down so officers could shave my head. I have been called a punk, a
sissy, and a faggot; I have been beaten while handcuffed for asking
to see mental health professionals.”
“I have been pepper sprayed in the
face because I refused to hand over the 'contraband' bra and panties
I had bought from the canteen and still had the receipt for, and
forced to go days without any underwear at all after having mine
“I have been denied at every level,
told by doctors that I'm not transgender, refused hormone therapy
even though I had taken it on the streets, and had to go weeks
without being able to shave after being put in confinement for
wearing women's clothing or standing up for my rights,” she added.
The corrections department began
providing Keohane hormone therapy after she filed her lawsuit.
his ruling, Walker chided prison officials – whom he accused of
ignorance and bigotry – saying that Keohane “was not an animal”
and that “Defendant shall treat her with the dignity the Eighth
James Esseks, director of the ACLU's
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, called
Walker's ruling “the most affirming judicial opinion about
transgender people” he's ever read.