Prosecution of NC transgender inmate may be likely to continue

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A federal judge indicated on Tuesday that the case of a transgender inmate suing in North Carolina for gender-affirming medical treatment may be likely to proceed.

Kanautica Zayre-Brown sued the North Carolina Department of Public Safety in April, claiming the prison system failed to regularly distribute hormones prescribed to Zayre-Brown and denied her request for surgery to construct a vagina. .

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn said he may issue an order dismissing the state’s motion to dismiss and said he intends to hear arguments in the Zayre-Brown case, reported The Charlotte Observer. He did not vote on this motion.

Cogburn also did not rule on a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Zayre-Brown to undergo surgery and receive prescriptions. He is expected to make his official ruling on the motions later.

The ACLU alleges that Zayre-Brown, who is being held at Anson Correctional Facility, was denied treatment and went through the grievance process twice. Department attorneys argued that she had not exhausted all possible remedies before taking the case to court. Cogburn said the case is important in deciding whether those detained are entitled to gender-affirming surgery and care.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined last week that gender dysphoria is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Zayre-Brown has been serving a sentence of up to nearly 10 years since 2017 after being convicted as a repeat offender for insurance fraud. In 2019, authorities moved Zayre-Brown to the women’s prison after months of consideration and the threat of a trial. The state had classified Zayre-Brown as a male and placed her in a men’s prison. At the time, she was believed to be the state’s only postoperative transgender inmate.

Zayre-Brown is expected to be released from prison in November 2024.

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This version of the story is corrected to show that the judge indicated the case could probably proceed, the judge said he could deny the motion to dismiss, and the judge did not rule on a motion as a preliminary injunction. The Charlotte Observer originally reported that the judge ruled the case could proceed, denied a motion to dismiss, and denied a motion for a preliminary injunction.

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