Psychological Perspectives on the Civil Liberties of Transgendered Inmates in a Prison Setting

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

First Committee Member

Lavita Nadkarni

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Becker


Transgender, Case study, Qualitative research, Behavior CBT, Diagnosis, 8th Amendment, Prisoners, Incarceration

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


As society becomes increasingly less binary, and moves towards a more spectrum based approach to mental illness, medical illness, and personality, it becomes necessary to address this shift within formerly rigid institutions. This paper explores this shift as it is occurring within correctional settings around the United States concerning the medical care, housing, and safety of transgendered inmates. As there is no legal standard for the housing or access to gender-affirming medical care (i.e., hormone therapy, sexual reassignment surgery), these issues are addressed on an institutional level, with very little consistency throughout the country. Currently, most institutions follow a genitalia-based system of classification. Within the system, core beliefs are held, some adaptive and some no longer adaptive, that drive the system's behavior and outcomes. With regard to transgendered inmates, several underlying beliefs within the system serve to maintain the status quo; however, the most basic underpinning is the system's reliance on a binary gender system. As views of humane treatment of the incarcerated expand and modernize, the role of mental health within corrections has also expanded. Psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists are found in almost all correctional facilities, and have become a voice of advocacy for an often underserved population.

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