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Transgender people in state prisons banned from gender-affirming surgery under House legislation

A sign outside the Westville Correctional Facility. The sign displays the name of the prison and the names of the governor, Department of Correction commissioner and prison warden.
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News
Transgender people in state prisons are currently eligible to receive gender-affirming surgery.

Transgender people would be banned from getting gender-affirming surgery while they’re in state prisons under legislation approved by a House committee Wednesday.

The bill, HB 1569, defines what it calls “sexual reassignment surgery” as procedures meant to alter the appearance of or affirm the patient’s “perception” of their gender as being different from their gender assigned at birth.

Aaron Craft is the civil appeals section chief with the Indiana attorney general’s office. He said legal precedent allows the state to ban such surgeries for people in the prison system.

“Combined with the continued availability of hormonal and other, non-surgical therapies for gender dysphoric patients,” Craft said.

READ MORE: Advocates gather at the Statehouse, protest nearly two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills

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The bill originally banned hormonal therapy as well, but that was removed by the House committee.

Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana director of advocacy and public policy, said that doesn’t matter – the bill is unconstitutional.

“This bill would categorically force the [Department of Correction] to deny the only medically-accepted, evidence-based treatments available to incarcerated transgender people," Blair said.

The bill is headed to the House floor.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.