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Transgender woman sues state prisons agency

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A transgender woman, currently held in a men’s prison, is suing the state Department of Corrections for denying her “hormone therapy and other medically necessary treatment.”

Keohane (Photo: DOC)
Keohane (Photo: DOC)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which is representing Reiyn (pronounced “rain”) Keohane, filed suit on her behalf Monday in federal court in Tallahassee.

The complaint says the state is violating her constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishments.

Keohane seeks a court order for the Department of Corrections to provide her with “hormone therapy, access to female clothing and grooming standards, and all other treatment for gender dysphoria deemed medically necessary,” the complaint says.

In his filing, ACLU attorney Daniel Tilley says Keohane is so distraught from her “gender dysphoria” she has attempted to mutilate her own still-male genitals.

It’s a medical diagnosis for “the incongruence between one’s gender identity and one’s sex assigned at birth and the clinical distress” that results.

Tilley, the ACLU of Florida’s staff attorney for LGBT rights, also led the organization’s successful legal fight to overturn Florida’s ban on same sex marriages.

“Not every transgender person experiences gender dysphoria, but many do, including our client, and those folks deserve health care just like anyone else,” he told FloridaPolitics.com.

Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said she would issue a statement* on the case later Monday.

Keohane, 22, is currently serving a 15-year sentence in Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami on an attempted second-degree murder conviction, according to DOC records.

Fort Myers police arrested Keohane after she reportedly stabbed her roommate in the throat, according to a September 2013 story by NBC affiilate WBBH.

A month earlier, Keohane’s mother was interviewed in a story on “transgender transitions” in the Fort Myers Florida Weekly website.

Carrie Keohane, co-founder of Lee County’s Visuality support center for LGBTQ youth, told the site her child “began taking hormones and transitioning into a female” at 19, was “very tormented” and had “only one friend.”

The complaint says “if left untreated, gender dysphoria can lead to serious medical problems, including clinically significant psychological distress, dysfunction, debilitating depression, and, for some people without access to appropriate medical care and treatment, self-harm, suicidality, and death.”

It goes on to add that Keohane “made repeated requests to (prison) mental-health and medical officials” to be treated as a woman, including filing grievances.

By late 2014 she tried to hang herself, and in January 2015, she “attempted self-castration because of (prison officials’) failure to provide her with treatment,” according to the compliant.

“I know that I am not alone, that other women have been in my situation before, and had it better, or worse,” Keohane wrote in a letter excerpted in the press release.

“I will fight this prejudice every step of the way so that there will be a better future for all other people who are thrown in prison, so that we may all have the treatment, dignity, and respect that every human being deserves, even if they have done wrong.”


*After 5 p.m., Glady emailed one sentence: “The Florida Department of Corrections has not yet received this lawsuit but will thoroughly review it upon receipt.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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