Under a new policy change, transgender inmates in Texas prisons will be able to receive hormone therapy while behind bars. It’s a move that advocates are calling a positive step, but far from ideal.
Prior to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s recent change, only inmates taking hormones before their incarceration could be placed on hormone therapy in prison. The agency’s Jason Clark said the change came after the American Psychiatric Association listed gender dysphoria as a diagnosable disease.
In a written statement, Clark said that inmates would still have to go through a rigorous screening process by a gender dysphoria specialist and endocrinologist to measure and track their hormone levels.
Katie Sprinkle is a Dallas-attorney specializing in transgender legal issues.
“Gender dysphoria is this confusion when your body is male, but your brain believes it to be female. And that dysphoria is what can lead to suicide, depression and self-mutilation in prison because you look in the mirror and your brain is like, that’s not what I’m supposed to see," Sprinkle explained.
Sprinkle called the merits of the policy change less than ideal, but a step in the right direction.
“The big concern among most of us is implementation, how are they going to implement it. They got around 200 people that they’ve identified as being transgendered out of about a 150,000 (in the) prison population," Sprinkle said.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the state is currently treating 21 transgender inmates with hormone therapy. Ten of the inmates in that group were diagnosed and prescribed hormone therapy under the new policy change.