The State of Illinois has not made the bulk of the changes to provision of medical care for transgender individuals in state prison ordered by a federal judge nine months ago. Instead, several Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials now admit that they have largely disregarded the court’s order and continue to deny transgender individuals the health care they need. This causes these individuals continued suffering, leading to harmful self-treatment efforts or even suicide attempts.
Because the State has failed to act, transgender prisoners now are asking the judge who ordered the changes last year to appoint an independent monitor to oversee that IDOC finally make the necessary changes.
The request comes in a filing today in the case Monroe v. Jeffreys pending in the Southern District of Illinois. 
Following a two-day hearing in 2019, Judge Nancy Rosenstengel ordered IDOC to overhaul its medical care for transgender prisoners. Foremost among the changes, the Judge ordered IDOC to immediately cease making medical treatment decisions by an internal committee made up of people with no relevant experience or expertise and whose members never even met with patients.
In depositions this summer, IDOC officials who are members of this committee acknowledged that it still makes medical decisions relating to hormone therapy and surgery. IDOC officials also admitted that women who are transgender continue to be kept in male prisons and routinely strip-searched by male guards, despite the court’s order that they avoid these searches.
“Janiah, Sora, Sasha, Marilyn, and Lydia, and the class of more than one hundred transgender individuals they represent, continue to be denied the crucial medical care they need,” said John Knight, LGBTQ Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois. “In addition, the State’s refusal to recognize these women as who they are by routinely keeping them in male prisons where they are searched by men is humiliating and causes them extreme and life-threatening suffering. The situation for transgender men is similarly concerning.” 
“IDOC has demonstrated that it simply cannot do this work by itself with the urgency necessary – an independent monitor is the only apparent way to protect the health and safety of our clients.”
Despite representations to the court earlier this year that IDOC was ending certain practices and making progress in complying with other changes the court ordered, the statements of IDOC officials – made under oath – belie those claims. Despite telling the court that the committee was no longer making medical decisions, Dr. Melvin Hinton, the Chief of Mental Health, testified in June that the committee continues to decide when a transgender prisoner begins hormone therapy and whether a transgender prisoner should undergo gender-affirming surgery.  The Court also ordered IDOC to provide prisoners with clothing and grooming items for social transition treatment. But, again, Dr. Hinton testified that IDOC and the committee continue to deny electrolysis and other forms of gender-affirming social transition.  
Another member of the committee – Ms. Tangenise Porter – acknowledged that she was still being asked by other committee members for her to weigh-in on medical treatment decisions for transgender prisoners, including decisions about housing, and without being given any guidance or standards for making such decisions.
“Nine months have passed without meaningful change for our clients in IDOC,” added Knight. “More concerning, the State continues to assert to the court that they are making changes, despite the testimony of those charged with fixing the system. We simply cannot wait for more promises and more empty words. We need an independent monitor now.”
Plaintiffs in this case are represented by the ACLU, along with lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis, King & Spalding, and Kennedy Hunt, P.C.