Aranda Stathers


It is long established that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against imposing cruel and unusual punishments requires prisons to adequately address their inmates’ medical needs. Inmates identifying with the LGBTQ+ community are not exempt from this constitutional mandate. Trans inmates with gender dysphoria require specific treatment, including, but not limited to, gender confirmation surgery. While courts acknowledge that prisons owe a duty to provide some transition-related care, the extent of that duty remains contested. With no guidance from Congress or the Supreme Court, the constitutionality of prisons’ denial of gender confirmation surgery is in the hands of the circuit courts, which have come to differing conclusions. This Comment examines the current legal landscape for inmates seeking to obtain gender confirming surgery under the Eighth Amendment. This Comment addresses not only the medical necessity of gender confirmation surgery but also whether the current guidelines outlining transition-related care are actually helping trans inmates obtain medically necessary gender confirmation surgery. Lastly, this Comment discusses the progress and trajectory of LGBTQ+ rights and the implications that it may have on trans inmates’ ability to obtain access to gender confirmation surgery through the Eighth Amendment in the future.



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