Gender Reassignment Process for Prisoner
On September 25, 2019 a verdict was handed down on the petition overseen by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel regarding a transgender detainee who requested to undergo gender reassignment during her incarceration. The petition was filed in March 2018 after she appealed, while detained at a men’s prison facility, having informed Israel Prison Service officials that she was transgender and expressing her desire to live as a woman. The petitioner hid her female identity throughout her life, and after taking part in therapy in prison, as well as discussions with a social worker, she began to address her lifelong conflicts.
Despite the fact that the petitioner underwent a psychological analysis in prison, which determined that she suffered from gender dysphoria (psychological and social distress due to a mismatch between an individual’s gender identity and their sex assigned at birth), the Israel Prison Service ignored her requests to commence the gender reassignment process, exacerbating her mental distress.
In its petition, ACRI demanded that the Israel Prison Service allow the petitioner to begin the gender reassignment process, which entails: taking hormones, contacting the Health Ministry’s Public Committee for Gender Reassignment, ensuring that the Israel Prison Service regard her as a woman, participation in therapy sessions, and transferring the petitioner to Neve Tirza (a women’s prison).
The case was overseen by Judge Michal Brandt, from the Central District Court, over the course of 18 months. After the petition was filed, the petitioner was referred to an endocrinologist in order to begin hormone treatment, but the Israeli Prison Service initially insisted that hormone treatment is “cosmetic” and that the petitioner should pay for it herself, despite the fact that the treatment has been part of the country’s health basket for decades. In addition, the Israel Prison Service insisted that the petitioner’s self-determination as a woman was insufficient grounds to transfer her to the women’s prison, and waited for a change in her physical appearance. To the credit of prisoners held in the petitioner’s ward, they accepted her change in gender, and some of the prisoners referred to her in the feminine. Following a court order, the petitioner was transferred to a women’s prison in June 2019.
Early in the process, a gag order was placed on the case, per the petitioner’s request. She later asked to lift the gag order, but the Israel Prison Service opposed this, claiming that any mention of the issue could harm the petitioner’s safety, as well as the prison’s security. The Israel Prison Service conditioned lifting the gag order on its prior approval of any publication on the matter.
On September 25, 2019, Judge Abraham Yaakov handed down the verdict on the case. Because the Israel Prison Service already consented that the petitioner undergo gender reassignment as requested in the petition, a determination only needed to be made regarding publicizing the case. The court determined that details of the case, aside from the name of the petitioner, be made public.