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Reflections on new GID policy, from PAC

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“A Win For Transgender Prisoners,” by R. Cepeda.

There has been a recent victory for transgender prisoners in the New York State Prison system regarding hormone treatment for those with GID (Gender Identity Disorder).

In the past, transgender prisoners could not get hormones unless they could prove that they were getting treatment from a doctor before incarceration. Now, the Department of Correction and community supervision has issued new policy following the Federal Bureau of Prison, which had also issued changes to its treatment of transgender prisoners in 2012.

The new changes in the NYS Dept of Corrections was covered in the recent edition of Pro Se (Vol 23 No 5, October 2013), published by the prisoner’s legal services of New York, states that according to Health Services Policy Manual (HSPM) 1.31 dated 5/20/2013 – transgender prisoners are eligible for clothing and hormone therapy.

The diagnostic and statistical manual V (DSM-V) currently lists GID now as Gender Dysphoria. Prior editions of the manual still list it as Gender Identity Disorder and classify it as a mental condition.

People with Gender Dysphoria/GID experience clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning because their gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

The new policy explicitly states that any prisoner who “presents with complaints and symptoms consistent with GID” should be sent for diagnostic evaluation from a mental health professional with specific expertise in Gender Dysphoria.

Of course there is still much to be done and much more to accomplish. Transgenders and gay prisoners in general still face abuse, ridicule and harassment by both inmates and staff. We look at these new policy changes in state and federal prisons as a small step on a greater journey of LGBTQ rights.

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The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.

This blog, which features letters from our Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) members, is just one way we overcome the enormous state-created barriers to communication and political participation for the people who are most affected by the prison system.

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