A new policy at the Michigan Department of Corrections is allowing more transgender inmates to receive transition-related treatments.
The revised policy was put into place June 26. Before the change, inmates were only allowed to receive treatment if such care was already scheduled before the person was incarcerated. Now, inmates can receive hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery while still in prison.
"Every prisoner is important, this is something that we wanted to do, that we needed to do," said Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the department.
If an inmate identifies as being gender dysphoric, the department's new Gender Dysphoria Collaborative Review Committee will look at the inmate's medical history and administer a medical and psychological evaluation before deciding to permit treatment. Gender dysphoria is defined as a conflict between a person's assigned gender and the gender they identify with.
If the committee approves an inmate's treatment, a plan for the person will be put together. It could include specific living conditions, such as a single cell, access to toilets and showers with "relative privacy," as well as gender-conforming clothes and other items.
"People who have experienced gender dysphoria oftentimes don't need hormones or surgical interventions," said David Dinielli of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "Oftentimes people simply need respect and the ability to live as the gender that they truly are."
Gautz said the cost for hormone treatment will come out of the department's general fund budget, meaning that it'll be taxpayer-funded. Hormone treatment costs between $50 and $70 per individual, according to the department.
Department officials said there are currently 50 transgender inmates across 30 Michigan facilities.