ACLU sues Indiana over new ban on gender-affirming surgery for people in prison

The ACLU is suing the state to strike down a new law banning prison inmates from receiving gender-affirming surgery.

The attorney general’s office said during legislative debate earlier this year that it expected such a lawsuit.

The ACLU of Indiana said the new ban on gender-affirming surgeries for people in Indiana prisons violates the Eighth Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

Historically, the U.S. Supreme Court has said denying care for a serious medical need is part of that constitutional protection. But federal courts are split on whether gender-affirming surgery is included.

The new Indiana law, HEA 1569, does allow gender-affirming care that isn’t surgical, including treatment such as hormone therapy. But the ACLU said the measure discriminates against transgender inmates – the surgeries prohibited by the law are still available to cisgender people in prison.

READ MORE: What is gender-affirming care?

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In a statement, Attorney General Todd Rokita called gender-affirming surgery an “atrocity.”

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Urological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology all disagree. Those organizations all recently emphasized a commitment to protecting access to gender-affirming care.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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