Thursday, 25 October 2007

Laugh or Cry?

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Daniel Claiborn, testifying for the state, said he has treated transgender people who are mentally stable and others who are ill but he didn't think it was traceable to their transgender nature.
Claiborn was testifying in a federal case brought by three prisoners trying to overturn a Wisconsin law that bars inmates from receiving female hormones. They say that stopping their treatments would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and would violate their right to equal protection under law.

The Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act is believed to be the only law of its kind in the nation. The inmates were taken off hormones for a short time after the law took effect in January 2006 but are receiving them after U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert issued an injunction early last year.

Under cross-examination, Claiborn said he has never researched gender identity disorder and doesn't receive journals on it. Several medical books list it as a mental disorder, but he said that as a psychologist, he doesn't find them useful because they are too medical in nature.
*Sigh*. And this is the State's "Expert Witness" on the subject of medical treatment for transsexuals. *Sigh* again.
Earlier, Kevin Kallas, a psychiatrist and mental health director for Wisconsin's prisons, testified he opposed the law banning hormones.

Besides in federal prisons, hormones are given in all of the Midwestern states surveyed by the Department of Corrections, he said. Kallas called hormones a "medically necessary" treatment in some, though not all, cases.

Kallas said patients who are taken off hormones typically need counseling, drugs and hospital stays instead, suicide treatments that are more expensive than the hormones, which cost $675 to $1,600 a year. Kallas said he did not know of any other medical treatment that the state Legislature has banned in prisons.
Know-Nothing Legislators see it as a moral issue, not a medical one. They don't understand, don't want to understand, they just want the problem to quietly go away.

Let's just summarise:

A condition so horrible that those who don't get medical treatment make repeated attempts at suicide.
A legislature that specifically bans such medical treatment.
An Expert Witness called in to justify the ban on medical treatment admits he doesn't read books on the subject as they're "too medical"
And the prison medical director points out that the medical treatments cost less than dealing with the suicide attempts.

Unfortunately, I can't guarantee that the legislation won't be upheld.


Dana said...

When politics and morality clash with science, understanding is always the loser.

Zoe, articles like this make my head explode, over and over and over and over and over and over and . . .

Zoe Brain said...

Dana, there's a very good analysis on the subject at

It's depressing though.