SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — An inmate is suing the warden of a South Dakota prison, alleging he withheld hormone therapy treatment as retaliation for a past complaint against a prison employee.
Cody Caskey, 32, filed a lawsuit accusing Mike Durfee State Prison Warden Bob Dooley of denying access to estrogen and testosterone blockers. State Department of Corrections officials declined comment, saying they hadn’t seen the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges the denial is retaliation for Caskey’s previous complaint alleging a prison captain sexually assaulted him in 2013. Caskey was on parole at the time of the encounter and came forward about the incident after the captain resigned the same year. The case was settled out of court in 2016, and prosecutors reviewed the allegations and decided not to file charges.
Caskey is currently serving a sentence for ingesting a controlled substance and has past convictions for identity theft and forgery. Caskey said the lack of hormone treatment has led to suicidal thoughts, the Argus Leader reported .
“I have a well-documented gender dysphoria that has only recently been acknowledged and it has yet to be treated,” Caskey wrote. “Hormones make me feel comfortable in my own skin. That’s what this lawsuit is about.”
Courts across the U.S. have seen recent cases involving transgender inmates requesting hormone therapy or surgery.
In California, Shiloh Quine became the first inmate in the country to successfully sue for gender reassignment surgery in 2015. Quine was transferred to a female facility after the surgery this year. Quine is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
Hormone therapy cases like Caskey’s have emerged recently in states including Florida, Georgia and Indiana. Policies on hormone therapy coverage vary by state.
In South Dakota, the corrections department’s Prison Rape Elimination Act Compliance Standards outline their policy on transgender inmates, though no specific stance on hormone therapy is listed.
Caskey’s lawsuit claims that the denial or unreasonable delay of hormone therapy is a result of the lack of a correctional department record of its past use.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com