Charles Norwood, a prisoner at the Waupun Correctional Institution, filed a lawsuit alleging that Wisconsin Department of Corrections employees violate his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to treat him for Gender Identity Disorder. Norwood identifies as a transsexual female and believes that he suffers from Gender Identity Disorder. According to the court, Gender Identity Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a strong and persistent cross-gender identification and discomfort with one’s sex, or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex, that causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. At some unspecified point in the past, Norwood allegedly received a diagnosis Gender Identity Disorder, but that disorder was not part of his mental health diagnosis at the beginning of the events that are the subject of this lawsuit.
The prison has a “Gender Identity Disorder Committee,” created in 2002, that was in the process of revising its policy related to the treatment for Gender Identity Disorder, and that all requests for hormone treatment would be reviewed by the committee upon completion of the policy, which was not anticipated to be completed until some future date. On April 9, 2012, the Gender Identity Disorder Committee met to discuss Norwood and tentatively approved hormone treatment. On May 1, 2012, a conference call was conducted between committee members and Waupun Correctional Institution Health Services Unit and Psychological Services Unit staff to complete a treatment plan. On June 6, Norwood met with outside consultant Dr. Steven Brown to determine whether hormone therapy would be medically contraindicated. Brown recommended the initiation of hormone therapy and plaintiff is currently receiving this treatment.
Norwood sued, claiming that his treatment was delayed because prison officials are biased against transsexuals. He noted, “Other inmates don’t have to show a documented history of headache pain before they receive treatment for their pain and stress caused by the headache.” However, the prison set forth undisputed facts explaining that the decision to provide treatment for Gender Identity Disorder is significantly more complex than the decision to treat a headache. The court rejected Norwood’s lawsuit.
Charles L. Norwood is serving time for:
- Substantial Battery-Intend Bodily Harm, a class I felony, Wisconsin Statutes 940.19(2).
- 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, a class F felony, Wisconsin Statutes 941.30(1).
- Battery, a class A misdemeanor, Wisconsin Statutes 940.19(1).
- Criminal Damage to Property, a class A misdemeanor, Wisconsin Statutes 943.01(1).