University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Farmer v. Carlson PC-PA-0048
Docket / Court Civ. No. 87-0215 ( M.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
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 ... read more >
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.

Alex Moody - 02/24/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Administrative segregation
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
U.S.P Lewisburg
Plaintiff Description A trans woman housed in men's prisons in Pennsylvania and Virginia
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 1987
Case Closing Year 1988
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
M.D. Pa.
02/29/1988
Memorandum and Order (685 F.Supp. 1335)
PC-PA-0048-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw

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