Keohane v. Florida Department of Corrections Secretary, No. 18-14096 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, an inmate who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging violations of her Eighth Amendment rights, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff's challenges to the prior freeze-frame policy and the FDC's initial denial of hormone therapy are moot in light of the FDC's subsequent repeal and replacement of the policy and its provision of hormone treatment.
The court rejected the merits of plaintiff's claim that the FDC violated the Eighth Amendment by refusing to accommodate her social-transitioning requests (to grow out her hair, use makeup, and wear female undergarments). In light of the disagreement among the testifying professionals about the medical necessity of social transitioning to plaintiff's treatment and the "wide-ranging deference" that the court pays to prison administrators' determinations about institutional safety and security, the court could not say that the FDC consciously disregarded a risk of serious harm by conduct that was "more than mere negligence" and thereby violated the Eighth Amendment. Rather, the court concluded that the FDC chose a meaningful course of treatment to address plaintiff's gender-dysphoria symptoms, which was sufficient to clear the low deliberate-indifference bar. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order, dismissed as moot in part, and reversed in part.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on December 3, 2020.