Norsworthy v. Beard

Year: 2015 Court: California Status: Victory

Transgender Law Center represented Michelle Norsworthy, a transgender woman held in a California men’s prison. Michelle was denied gender-affirming surgery, even though her treating psychologist had repeatedly concluded that it was medically necessary to treat her gender dysphoria. She was also denied a legal name change because the name she would like to use is a traditionally feminine name. TLC and co-counsel argued that the prison system’s discriminatory actions violate fundamental constitutional guarantees, including the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Equal Protection Clause.

In a ruling issued on April 2, 2015, Federal District Court Judge Jon Tigar concluded that denial of care to Michelle violated her rights to adequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court granted a preliminary injunction ordering the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to provide her with “adequate medical care, including sex reassignment surgery . . . . as promptly as possible.”

The state paroled Norsworthy shortly after the ruling, and settled the case in 2016.

The law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP was pro bono co-counsel.

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