Appeals Court To Hear Transgender Inmate Case

May 17, 2019

A federal appeals court will hear arguments in August in a legal battle about the Florida Department of Corrections’ handling of a transgender inmate. 

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case during the week of Aug. 19, though an exact date was not listed in information posted Monday on an online docket.

The Department of Corrections appealed after Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last year ruled in favor of inmate Reiyn Keohane, who was born a male but began identifying as a female as a child. Keohane, who was sentenced in 2014 to 15 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder, is an inmate at the Wakulla Correctional Institution Annex, an all-male facility.

The lawsuit alleged, in part, that Keohane was not allowed to wear women’s undergarments and have access to grooming items available to female inmates. Keohane was allowed to resume hormone treatments after filing the lawsuit in 2016.

In his ruling last year, Walker blasted the Department of Corrections for its treatment of Keohane, who was diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” as a teen. “Defendant’s deliberate denial of care --- that is, the denial of access to female clothing and grooming standards despite its knowledge of her diagnosis and her history of self-harm --- has caused Ms. Keohane to continue to suffer unnecessarily and poses a substantial risk of harm to her health,” he wrote.

But in a brief filed at the Atlanta-based appeals court, the Department of Corrections said it has made proper accommodations, such as providing mental-health counseling, issuing Keohane a bra and allowing her to shower separately from male inmates.

“The record in this case establishes that FDC (the department), far from being indifferent to Keohane’s medical need, has affirmatively treated her medical need with appropriate and well-recognized treatments,” the November brief said.