In an email thanking the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP), the first person — identified in court documents as Mx. Doe — to receive gender-affirming surgery, while incarcerated by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, wrote:

“I had surgery today, still can’t believe it is true. . . . No one can take this from me. When I am able to find a mirror, I know it will finally be me who is looking back. Thank you all for tirelessly championing the rights of those of us who are existing on the margins. Thank you for showing me I matter . . .” (

In 2017, PILP began advocating for Mx. Doe to receive necessary medical care, a constitutional right. Mx. Doe suffered under the carceral state when testosterone therapy was withheld, causing an exacerbation of gender dysphoria.

The Mayo Clinic defines gender dysphoria as “the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics.” Denying care to an incarcerated individual with gender dysphoria is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

PILP stated in a press release: “After five years of advocacy, the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project is pleased to announce that their client has become the first person in Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) custody to receive gender-affirming surgery. . . . This gender-affirming surgery was essential for our client’s well-being and is a historic step forward for transgender people in Pennsylvania’s prisons and jails.”

PILP will continue the lawsuit to sue for damages on their client’s behalf and a further injunction to require the DOC provide all necessary medical care.

Marie Kelly

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Marie Kelly

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