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US - Inmate's hormone suit gains... [Philadelphia Inquirer]

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  • Brenda Lana Smith R.af D.
    Inmate s hormone suit gains http://inq.philly.com:80/content/inquirer/2001/02/01/city/PWOLFE01.htm Thursday, February 01, 2001 Inmate s hormone suit gains The
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      Inmate's hormone suit gains
      http://inq.philly.com:80/content/inquirer/2001/02/01/city/PWOLFE01.htm
      Thursday, February 01, 2001

      Inmate's hormone suit gains
      The case will go to trial, a judge ruled. The prisoner, planning a sex
      change, was denied treatment.
      By Joseph A. Slobodzian
      INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

      The civil-rights suit filed by a preoperative transsexual inmate who
      contends he became ill after Pennsylvania prison officials arbitrarily
      halted his female-hormone therapy will go to trial, a federal judge has
      ruled.

      U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody on Monday denied state motions to dismiss
      the suit filed in 1997 by Jessica E. Wolfe.

      While throwing out several of Wolfe's legal claims, Brody said a jury should
      decide whether state prison officials committed medical malpractice and were
      "deliberately indifferent" to Wolfe's medical needs.

      "Abrupt termination of prescribed hormonal treatments by a prison official
      with no understanding of Wolfe's condition, and failure to treat her severe
      withdrawal symptoms or aftereffects, could constitute 'deliberate
      indifference,' " Brody wrote.

      Michael Lukens, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections,
      declined comment.

      In court filings, Pennsylvania officials have maintained that preoperative
      transsexuals in state prisons get only "limited medically necessary
      treatment continued to prevent complications." State prison officials
      contend that Wolfe suffered no injuries and that they were not indifferent
      to his medical needs.

      Wolfe's attorney, Stephanie G. Colman, said she told Wolfe of the judge's
      ruling just yesterday afternoon. She said Wolfe was "very pleased."

      "It's pretty bad at this point," Colman added. Wolfe, she said, "hasn't
      received any individual psychiatric care since last July. The only thing she
      has had are general group sessions about dealing with stress and prison
      life."

      Wolfe, 37, a Pittsburgh native, is a preoperative transsexual who legally
      changed his name from James Elliot Wolfe to Jessica Elaine Wolfe in 1996.
      Later that year, he was arrested for having sexual contact with an
      8-year-old girl. He later pleaded guilty to rape, a plea he said was made
      under duress.

      Wolfe is now serving a five- to 15-year sentence in the state prison at
      Mahanoy in Schuylkill County.

      When he was arrested, Wolfe had already begun taking two female hormones to
      prepare his body for sex-change surgery. Initially, Wolfe continued to
      receive the hormones while imprisoned in the Allegheny County Prison and at
      the state prison in Pittsburgh.

      But after Wolfe was transferred first to the state prison at Camp Hill and
      then Mahanoy later in 1996, his lawsuit said, prison officials said he would
      no longer be given the two prescription hormones.

      Wolfe's suit contends that his male body features reappeared, he became
      severely depressed and suicidal, and he suffered severe hormone-withdrawal
      symptoms - headaches, nausea, cramps, hot flashes and baldness.

      While no prison systems pay for sex-change surgery for transsexual inmates,
      federal prisons and many state prisons will continue female-hormone therapy
      if it began before prison.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Joseph A. Slobodzian's e-mail address is jslobodzian@....

      END

      Kindly appreciate that Brenda Lana Smith R.af D. had no editorial input
      whatsoever in the above...
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