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BALIF Files Ninth Circuit Amicus Brief Supporting Medical Care for Transgender Prisoner

14 Jun 2015 2:44 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


June 12, 2015 – San Francisco – Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Norsworthy v. Beard. Ms. Norsworthy is a transgender woman held in a California men’s prison. The district court concluded that the denial of necessary medical care to Ms. Norsworthy violated the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It issued a preliminary injunction requiring the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to provide Ms. Norsworthy with adequate medical care, including sex reassignment surgery. CDCR appealed the preliminary injunction to the Ninth Circuit.

BALIF’s brief in support of Ms. Norsworthy argues that when sex-reassignment surgery – or any medical treatment required for a serious medical need – has been identified as medically necessary for a prisoner, CDCR must provide it. There is no authority for a blanket denial of a particular procedure due to anticipated security and administrative issues. The brief explains that state and local detention systems throughout the country, including CDCR, have developed policies and procedures that ensure the health and safety of transgender prisoners while effectively balancing security and administrative issues. CDCR’s asserted security issues ignore important aspects of California’s prison system and are entirely manageable with respect to Ms. Norsworthy. Constitutional and other federal law require that CDCR take steps to ensure both the health and safety of a transgender prisoner like Ms. Norsworthy, as the district court correctly held. 

“CDCR cannot hide behind its asserted security and administrative concerns to avoid its constitutional duty to provide medically necessary care to all prisoners, including Ms. Norsworthy,” said Julie Wilensky, chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee.

BALIF’s brief was filed by pro bono amicus counsel Rosen,  Bien,  Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, whose team includes attorneys Aaron J. Fischer and Sanford Rosen, summer associate Abbye Klamann, and paralegal clerk Charlotte Landes. 


BALIF is the nation’s oldest and largest bar association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students, and legal workers. 

Click here to read the brief.

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