A transgender woman incarcerated in the Idaho Department of Correction brought suit against the prison for denying her gender-confirmation surgery. She argued that the prison’s denial of care violated her Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
This case will determine whether transgender people have a constitutional right to receive medically necessary gender-affirming care while incarcerated.
The brief addresses the state’s claim that providing gender-confirmation surgery to incarcerated transgender people would be costly. The cost of providing surgery to the state’s small transgender inmate population would be negligible. Specifically, the cost for covering gender-confirmation surgery would represent between zero (lowest estimate) and seventeen-hundredths of one percent (highest estimate) of the total healthcare appropriations in one year. In addition, providing medically necessary surgery to incarcerated transgender people could save the Idaho Department of Correction the costs that would have been incurred to treat the mental and physical symptoms of gender dysphoria. Moreover, treatment for gender dysphoria is already covered under the existing health care plan for people incarcerated in Idaho, and therefore, it is likely that no additional costs would be incurred by the state for providing surgery.