Transgender prisoner sues Florida to get hormone treatments

Posted at 6:19 AM, Aug 16, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A transgender prisoner sued the Florida Department of Corrections on Monday to demand hormone treatments that she said were promised when she pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder.

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The suit filed in federal court in Tallahassee says Reiyn Keohane, 22, is receiving cruel and unusual punishment because she needs the hormone treatments to avoid depression. Since being incarcerated in men's prisons, she has tried to hang herself and attempted to castrate herself.

"This treatment is absolutely necessary to my ability to mentally function," Keohane wrote in one grievance to prison officials. "Without it I consider self-harm and suicide every single day. It is the only thing that matters in my life in this moment."

Keohane was arrested in September 2013, one month after beginning hormone treatments. Her decision to plead guilty to stabbing her roommate was motivated by a promise that hormone treatments would continue while she was in prison, according to the lawsuit filed on her behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Keohane was sentenced to 15 years for the attack in Fort Myers.

Keohane has felt she was born with the wrong gender since she was 12 and began seeing therapists when she was 13. By age 14, she began living as a female. She legally changed her name when she was 17 and began hormone therapy when she was 19.

The lawsuit also complains that female underwear was taken from her when she was transferred to a new prison and officials refused to return them. The suit seeks to force the department to let her wear female clothing and to grow her hair so she can style it as a woman would. Her prison mug shot shows her with a crew cut.

"I am a transgender female and am not comfortable wearing male underwear - it is a discrimination on the basis of sex or gender to force a person to act in a certain way because of their sex," Keohane wrote in another complaint to prison officials.

The Department of Corrections said it hadn't yet received the lawsuit.