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ACLU files lawsuit, says transgender prisoner is being denied medical care

Michelle Wright in a statement to ACLU (Still image from video)

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon claims a transgender female prisoner is being denied essential medical care.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 25-year-old Michelle Wright, who is currently behind bars at Two Rivers Correctional Facility for an attempted robbery. She has been behind bars since 2013, and has spent more than 400 days in "effectively solitary confinement."

Click here to read the full complaint

Wright, who was born as a man, has identified as woman since she was a teenager. She was unable to begin hormone therapy prior to being incarcerated. Her nearly 100 requests for medical care have been denied repeatedly, the lawsuit states, and she has attempted suicide and attempted to castrate herself three times.

“At this point, I’m afraid I will lose her forever,” Wright's mother, Victoria Wright, said. “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.”

People with gender dysphoria can suffer severe anxiety and depression, according to OHSU Associate Professor Dr. Christina Milano.

“We know that competent, transgender-affirming care, in the form of therapy, hormones, and/or surgery, can be lifesaving for an individual who has gender dysphoria," Dr. Milano said.

The ACLU claims other transgender prisoners have been denied appropriate health care in the state of Oregon.

A representative with the Department of Corrections released the following statement Monday:

"While it is the policy of the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) not to comment on matters of pending litigation, DOC has been proactive in addressing the needs of incarcerated transgender people. DOC looks forward to its continued work on these issues and to responding to the specific complaints raised in the litigation in court."

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