Case: Farmer v. Carlson

3:87-cv-00215 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania

Filed Date: Feb. 11, 1987

Closed Date: 1988

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

The plaintiff in this case, Dee Farmer, was a trans woman housed at U.S.P. Lewisburg, a men's federal prison in Pennsylvania, and was later transferred to F.C.I. Petersburg, a federal prison in Virginia. Farmer also litigated Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994), the first civil rights case involving a trans person in the U.S. Supreme Court. That was a different case; it's in the Clearinghouse here. Farmer filed this suit pro se with the help of another inmate on February 11, 1987 in the Un…

The plaintiff in this case, Dee Farmer, was a trans woman housed at U.S.P. Lewisburg, a men's federal prison in Pennsylvania, and was later transferred to F.C.I. Petersburg, a federal prison in Virginia. Farmer also litigated Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994), the first civil rights case involving a trans person in the U.S. Supreme Court. That was a different case; it's in the Clearinghouse here.

Farmer filed this suit pro se with the help of another inmate on February 11, 1987 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The complaint names as defendants the Administrator of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Regional Director of the Northeast Region of the BOP, Wardens of U.S.P Lewisburg and F.C.I. Petersburg, and four John Doe defendants, correctional staff and employees at the two prisons. The case was assigned to Chief Judge Nealson, who dismissed the claims against the defendants from F.C.I. Petersburg for improper venue.

Farmer alleged that she had been denied medical care, treated with deliberate indifference in regards to a serious medical need, subject to cruel and unusual punishment, denied due process, and denied access to the court system. She claims that this treatment violates her rights under the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Farmer arrived at U.S.P. Lewisburg in November of 1986. She had been on hormone replacement therapy, her last dose a month before she was incarcerated. Prison staff and administration refused to provide her with estrogen, claiming that providing psychological care was an acceptable alternative due to difference of opinion at the time regarding how transsexualism should be treated (please note - transsexualism has since been removed from the World Health Association's list of International Classification of Diseases, and is no longer commonly used by the trans community or gender affirming care providers). Her request for psychological care was also delayed for two months despite her repeated requests and staff observation of her mental distress.

The due process, access to courts, and cruel and unusual punishment allegations were based on the defendants placing the plaintiff in administrative segregation for the entire time she was at U.S.P. Lewisburg, totaling four months. While in segregation, she was denied access to recreational programming, psychological counseling, and certain types of legal assistance.

Chief Judge Nealson's opinion, issued on February 29, 1988, granted the defendants motions for summary judgment on all counts. Throughout the opinion, he used masculine pronouns to refer to the plaintiff. He dismissed the case with an order that any appeal would be deemed frivolous.

Summary Authors

Alex Moody (2/24/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Nealon, William Joseph Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Judge(s)

Nealon, William Joseph Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Memorandum and Order

685 F.Supp. 1335

Feb. 29, 1988 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

The Caged Canary

Elizabeth Alexander

The United States has experienced an explosion in the number of people in prison, an explosion that cannot be attributed to changes in the crime rate, but rather reflects changes in public policy, pa… Dec. 1, 2008 http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/...

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 11, 1987

Closing Date: 1988

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A trans woman housed in men's prisons in Pennsylvania and Virginia

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Federal Bureau of Prisons (Washington, DC), Federal

U.S.P Lewisburg (Lewisburg, Union), Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Fetus Identity

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Administrative segregation

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Discrimination-basis:

Gender identity

Medical/Mental Health:

Mental health care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run