Framing a Narrative of Discrimination Under the Eighth Amendment in the Context of Transgender Prisoner Health Care

Halbach, Sarah | January 1, 2015

This Comment looks closely at the reasoning behind two recent federal court opinions granting transgender prisoners access to hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery. Although both opinions were decided under the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, which does not expressly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, a careful look at the courts’ reasoning suggests that they were influenced by the apparent discrimination against the transgender plaintiffs. This Comment argues that future transgender prisoners may be able to develop an antidiscrimination doctrine within the Eighth Amendment by framing their Eighth Amendment medical claims in terms of discrimination based on their transgender status.