Treatment for Transgender Inmate, De'lonta v. Johnson (amicus)

Ophelia De’lonta, a Virginia prison inmate, has gender identity disorder (GID).  She is anatomically male, but identifies as a woman.  Since our victory in another case involving Ophelia six years ago, the Virginia Department of Corrections has been allowing her to receive hormone treatment and to live as a female to the extent possible in a male prison.  However, she continues to suffer severe gender dysphoria and an occasional compulsion to mutilate herself.  Gender reassignment surgery seems to be medically indicated, but VDOC has refused even to allow her to be evaluated for surgery.  Ophelia sued VDOC in federal court, claiming that the denial of treatment violated the Eighth Amendment.  The judge dismissed the case, and she appealed.  On January 6, 2012, we filed an amicus brief in support of her Eighth Amendment claim, and oral argument took place on October 24, 2012.  On January 28, 2013, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ophelia De’lonta stated a “plausible” claim that the Virginia Department of Corrections violated her constitutional rights when it refused to have her evaluated for sex reassignment surgery. The case is remanded to the lower court.

Court Documents (click link to view .pdf)
Opinion - U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
Brief of Amicus Curiae- U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit


Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia; Joshua Block, ACLU National LGBT Project

Date filed

January 6, 2012


U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit