Published August, 2016

Tate v. Wexford Health Source, No. 3: 16-cv-00092-NJR (S.D. Ill. Feb. 18, 2016)

An Illinois federal judge allowed a transgender inmate’s claims under the Eighth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to proceed against correctional facility staff alleged to have denied her treatment for gender dysphoria. Correctional personnel instead allegedly told Tate she would have to wait until release for treatment.

The Eighth Amendment claim, under Section 1983, will now depend on Tate’s ability to show (1) as to Wexford, that denial of medical care was based on its policies not to examine and treat transgender inmates, and (2) as to the individuals in charge of Tate’s care, that their actions constituted deliberate indifference to her health or safety. In her ADA claim, Tate alleges she was denied access to medical service programs because of a disability, her “gender dysphoria.” See 42 U.S.C. § 12132(1). Both claims follow the standards applicable to inmates living with HIV denied medical care. See, e.g., Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976) (the government has an obligation to provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by incarceration. An inmate must rely on prison authorities to treat his medical needs; if the authorities fail to do so, those needs will not be met.); Bragdon v. Abbott, 524 U.S. 624 (1998) (refusal to provide dental treatment on the basis of HIV status constitutes disability-based discrimination in violation of the ADA); see also United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, 157 (2006) (“[s]ervices programs, or activities” in § 12132 includes medical prison programs.).

Tate’s claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) and Equal Protection violation were dismissed. No intent was shown for the IIED claim, while the latter claim was dismissed because Tate failed to show evidence of other transgender inmates who were provided such medical care as she requested. See City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985) (all persons “similarly situated” must be treated alike by state actors.).