Litigation

ACLU Sues Oregon Department of Corrections Over Denial of Medical Care to Transgender Prisoner

Lawsuit highlights relentless suffering of transgender prisoner and demands medically-necessary care for all transgender prisoners

 October 17, 2016 - The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon (ACLU of Oregon) filed a lawsuit today in federal court against the officials at the Oregon Department of Corrections on behalf of a transgender prisoner who is being denied essential medical care. The suit, on behalf of Michelle Wright, a transgender woman who is currently housed at Two Rivers Correctional Facility, argues that it is cruel and unusual to deny medically-necessary care to prisoners. Michelle Wright in prison

“The Oregon Department of Corrections is denying our client lifesaving care,” said Mat dos Santos, legal director at the ACLU of Oregon. 

Wright, age 25, felt a deep disconnect between the gender she was assigned at birth and her female gender since childhood. Although she identified as transgender, she was unable to begin hormone therapy prior to her incarceration. According to the complaint, Wright has been denied medical care despite submitting nearly 100 requests. Facing repeated denials of care, she has attempted suicide multiple times and, on three occasions, attempted to castrate herself. 

“At this point, I’m afraid I will lose her forever,” said an emotional Victoria Wright, mother of the plaintiff. “She should be held accountable for her mistakes, but I’m worried she is being damaged in prison in a way that might not be fixable.”

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Oregon Schools Must Protect Transgender Students

UPDATE: January 20, 2015 - We sent a letter outlining the rights of transgender students to the Dallas School Board ahead of a special meeting held last night. The letter read, in part:

"The refusal to allow transgender students to use the same facilities used by other students in accordance with their gender identity violates Title IX and impairs students’ ability to learn, grow, and thrive in the school environment. Research shows that denying transgender people access to facilities that correspond to the gender they live every day holds serious consequences for them, negatively impacting their education, employment, health, and participation in public life. Conversely, full acceptance of a student’s gender identity—including allowing them access to gender-appropriate facilities —goes a long way toward providing a welcoming environment and a positive educational experience. Moreover, disclosure of a student’s gender identity, without their permission, is against the law and can have serious, long-term negative repercussions. It is critical for schools to respect the privacy of transgender students, even if the school is operating with no ill intent."

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National Organization for Marriage Appeal for Intervention Dismissed!

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses the National Organization for Marriage’s ("NOM") appeal for intervention in Geiger vs. Kitzhaber and Rummell vs. Kitzhaber

August 27, 2014 - On May 19, Judge Michael McShane struck down Oregon’s laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage. NOM had sought to intervene in that case, which Judge McShane denied. NOM then tried to appeal that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Today’s decision dismissing NOM’s appeal confirms that NOM has no standing to participate in the case.

“In the past year there have been more than 30 court rulings overturning state bans on marriage between same-sex couples,” said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon. “The legal consensus is clear that these bans are unconstitutional. Marriage is a fundamental freedom, and freedom means freedom for everyone.”

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Lewis et al. v. Forest Grove High School

High School Allows Students to Form Gay-Straight Alliance

July 13, 2009 - The ACLU represented Jessica Lewis and a number of her fellow students at Forest Grove High School, where they applied to form a Gay-Straight Alliance.

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Kerr v. Bradbury

January 2005 - The third time’s the charm. For the past three election cycles, beginning in 1998, the Oregon Citizens Alliance filed its so-called “Student Protection Act” initiative petition to proscribe how public schools must teach about homosexuality (only in negative or neutral terms, positive or supportive terms would be prohibited).

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Li and Kennedy v. State of Oregon

2004 - The ACLU seeks to end Oregon's exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage rights.

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