On December 6, 2023, Baker Botts L.L.P. joined Rights Behind Bars, along with the Fair Fight Initiative, in filing a Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction on behalf of Jane Doe, a trans woman who is seeking medically necessary care and safe living conditions from the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).
Specifically, Ms. Doe is challenging GDC’s de facto blanket ban on gender-affirming surgery. Ms. Doe received recommendations for gender-affirming surgeries from four GDC psychiatrists over the course of six years. Despite this, the complaint alleges that she has been told time and again that GDC will not allow her to receive gender-affirming surgery, in violation of their own stated policy. Furthermore, GDC has repeatedly denied Ms. Doe access to adequate hormone replacement therapy, as well as access to gender-affirming commissary items.
Ms. Doe’s medical needs are urgent. As set forth in the complaint, GDC’s disregard for her health and safety has had dire effects on Ms. Doe.
“Ms. Doe is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met,” said D Dangaran, Director of Gender Justice at Rights Behind Bars, who introduced the client to Baker Botts. “She endured four torturous years without hormone therapy and struggled through a deep depression as she watched her body detransition. She tirelessly advocated for herself, seeking gender-affirming surgeries and other accommodations that are readily available in the free world and that the GDC denied, despite her clear and demonstrated need. I am proud to represent her as she strives to obtain the necessary care that GDC’s illegal Blanket Ban prevents her from accessing.”
In her Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Ms. Doe seeks access to individualized, medically necessary care, including gender-affirming surgery, adequate hormone replacement therapy, and gender-affirming commissary items. Additionally, Ms. Doe seeks transfer to a women’s prison, as she is currently housed in a men’s prison, where she suffers relentless violence, harassment, and discriminatory treatment on account of her transgender status.
In denying Ms. Doe medically necessary care and safe living conditions, the lawsuit alleges GDC has violated her constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment, as well as her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
Associate Scott Novak, who initiated Baker Botts’ involvement in the case, stated, “GDC policy mandates that people within their custody receive individualized, medically necessary care. A blanket ban on providing gender-affirming surgery violates not only GDC’s own policy, but also basic medical standards and the U.S. Constitution. We are proud to partner with Rights Behind Bars and the Fair Fight Initiative in seeking to obtain for Ms. Doe the medically necessary care and safe living conditions she should have had years ago.”
Senior Associate Francesca Eick, who is co-leading the Baker Botts team on the case, stated “I’m honored to work with such a strong group of talented and dedicated attorneys on this case. Our first goal is to help our client receive the life-saving gender-affirming care she is entitled to, and we also hope that this case can help pave the way for other transgender plaintiffs who aren’t receiving the care they need.”
The Baker Botts team representing plaintiffs in Doe v. Georgia Department of Corrections is led by associates Scott Novak, Francesca Eick, Hannah Roskey, Katie Jeffress, Maddy Dwertman, and Nick Palmieri, as well as supervising partner Sterling Marchand.
This new engagement is part of Baker Botts’ Pride in Action initiative, which embodies the firm’s commitment to LGBTQ+ civil rights through pro bono representation. To learn more about Pride in Action, click here.
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