The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it is suing Utah for allegedly discriminating against an incarcerated transgender woman on the basis of her gender dysphoria.

The suit was filed in the United States District Court, District of Utah and names the state of Utah, the Utah Department of Corrections and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

The Utah Department of Corrections referred back to an earlier statement from March made by Executive Director Brian Redd, which said they were working to “address this complex issue.”

“We have also taken steps on our own, and as a state, to address the needs of inmates while maintaining the highest safety standards. We fundamentally disagree with the DOJ on key issues, and are disappointed with their approach,” Redd said.

The Justice Department had previously, in March 2024, released a letter detailing its findings after an investigation. The investigation concluded that the Utah Department of Corrections had allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying equal access to health care services, imposing criteria for gender dysphoria treatment and assessment not required for other conditions and failing to make reasonable modifications to policies.

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Justice Department finds Utah Department of Corrections discriminated against transgender woman

Now, a couple weeks after that initial letter, the Justice Department has filed a suit repeating those central allegations.

The suit alleges that shortly after the complainant entered Utah Department of Corrections’ custody, her medical records indicated that she was seeking treatment for gender dysphoria. Nine months after she initially requested hormone therapy, she received a diagnostic evaluation.

Seventeen months from the initial request was when the Utah Department of Corrections provided hormone therapy. “Complainant’s access to care for her gender dysphoria was contingent on a biased and unnecessarily prolonged approval process,” the suit claims.

In addition, the suit alleges that the complainant requested modifications such as allowing her to purchase female clothing, look at her housing requests and to modify pat search policies. She also made requests through ADA forms. According to the suit, the Utah Department of Corrections “denied virtually all of Complainant’s ADA requests.”

“People with gender dysphoria, including those held in jails and prisons, are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are entitled to equal access to medical care just like anyone else with a disability,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a release, adding that the division was “committed to protecting the rights of all people with disabilities in our country.”

The suit requests the complainant be awarded compensatory damages and also that a judge order the Utah Department of Corrections to “reasonably modify its policies, practices, and procedures for Complainant and others with gender dysphoria when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability and ensure that they have equal access to UDOC’s services, programs, and activities.”

In its initial notice of the investigation concluding, the Justice Department had outlined remedial measures including revising policies, giving federal officials access to files and written status reports about how the Utah Department of Corrections was implementing the changes.

The letter also stated that the Utah Department of Corrections needed to train its employees.

“We hope to work together with you to resolve this matter cooperatively through a court-enforceable consent decree that brings UDOC into compliance with the ADA,” the Justice Department wrote in the previous release. “If we are unable to reach such a resolution, the Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit.”