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Three specific plaintiffs—all in federal institutions—are joining together to bring this suit, but the outcome will affect hundreds if not thousands of transgender persons across Texas who have been convicted of a felony and are struggling to live authentic lives. Currently, no person inside a Texas prison or a federal prison in the state can update their name or gender marker, nor can they update their name or gender marker on release until two years after completing all terms of their sentence. Someone serving a life or long-term sentence may never be able to update these important aspects of medically necessary transgender care.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars denial of medically necessary care as a form of punishment, but that is what Section 45.103 of the Texas Family Code functions to do.
Some may object that this hides a person’s identity and thus should be upheld. As all legal name changes are registered in state identity databases, this statute does not obscure anyone’s identity; it serves no other purpose but state-sponsored harassment, which disproportionately affects transgender persons by creating unnecessary barriers to our survival.