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Case Name Gibson v. Collier PC-TX-0024
Docket / Court 6:15-CV-00190 ( W.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
A trans woman housed in a mens' prison in Texas filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas on June 8, 2015 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiff represented herself in the trial court, and she was represented on appeal by Stephen ... read more >
A trans woman housed in a mens' prison in Texas filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas on June 8, 2015 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiff represented herself in the trial court, and she was represented on appeal by Stephen Braga, a law professor at the University of Virginia. The case was assigned to Judge Robert Pitman.

The plaintiff alleged that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's blanket ban on gender affirmation surgery violated the Eighth Amendment because it amounted to deliberate indifference to her medical needs. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that, while incarcerated, her primary care physician was not adequately trained on transgender care and failed to provide her with treatment consistent with the WPATH standards of care. He refused to provide her with an individualized assessment or treatment plan, which denied her access to various forms of treatment that may have been medically necessary. The plaintiff had on several occasions used the prison's formal grievance system to protest this lack of care as well as the blanket policy to no avail.

The defendants named in this case were the TDCJ Director, the primary care physician who refused to provide the plaintiff with treatment for her gender dysphoria, and and unknown University of Texas Medical Branch official. The Director moved for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim. On June 8, 2015, the district court granted this motion, dismissing the plaintiff's complaint in its entirety.

The plaintiff filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit pro se on September 16, 2016. On October 10, 2017, Professor Stephen Bega began representing her. Judges Smith, Ho and Barksdale heard the case and released an opinion on March 29, 2019 (920 F.3d 212). The majority opinion, written by Judge Ho, held that there had been no Eighth Amendment violation, characterizing the WPATH standards as simply one side of a contested debate rather than the widely accepted standard in the medical field. Judge Ho held that because the doctor and prison administration had merely chosen a side, they were not demonstrating the malicious intent necessary to make out a claim of deliberate indifference.

Judge Barksdale's dissent, on the other hand, took issue with both the summary judgment procedure used by the lower court and the majority's assessment of the merits. Specifically, he disagreed with the majority's characterization of WPATH, noting that it had become a widely accepted norm that had been acknowledged as such in both the Fourth and Seventh Circuits. Judge Barksdale also questioned whether authorities cited by the majority supported its use of he/him/his pronouns to refer to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff filed a petition for certiorari (an appeal) in the Supreme Court of the United States on July 1, 2019. The Supreme Court announced on December 9, 2019 that they had declined to hear the case (140 S. Ct. 653). The case is now closed.

While this case was still ongoing, the plaintiff filed another lawsuit alleging retaliation in response to pursuing these claims. For more information, see Gibson v. Jean-Baptiste, No. 6:17-cv-00042 (W.D. Tex.)

Alex Moody - 02/18/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Conditions of confinement
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Plaintiff Description A trans woman seeking gender affirming medical care including gender affirming surgery while housed in a men's prison in Texas
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 06/08/2015
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
6:15-CV-00190 (W.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
16-51148 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
PC-TX-0024-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Form To Be Used By A Prisoner in Filing a Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-TX-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/08/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion Requesting the Court to Allow Plaintiff to Add Newa New Defendant to her Pending 1983 Complaint or to Amend her Complaint [ECF# 48]
PC-TX-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/21/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Prisoner's Civil Rights Complaint [Supplement to ECF 1] [ECF# 55]
PC-TX-0024-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/01/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 69] (W.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0024-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit [Ct. of App. ECF# 14]
PC-TX-0024-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/28/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Defendant-Appellee Bryan Collier [Ct. of App. ECF# 19]
PC-TX-0024-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/28/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Brief of Appellant Scott Lynn Gibson [Ct. of App. ECF# 38]
PC-TX-0024-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/05/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (920 F.3d 212)
PC-TX-0024-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/29/2019
Source: Westlaw
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 68] (140 S.Ct. 653)
PC-TX-0024-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/09/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Ho, James Chiun-Yue (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0009
Pitman, Robert Lee (W.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-9000
Smith, Walter Scott Jr. (W.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0004 | PC-TX-0024-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benshoff, Elizabeth (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0007
Bok, John F (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0007
Braga, Stephen L (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0007 | PC-TX-0024-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Barrett, Roy Lee (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-9000
Davis, James E. (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0006
Huntpalmer, Richard Armstrong (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0006 | PC-TX-0024-9000 | PC-TX-0024-9001
Mase, Lacey E. (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0006
Mateer, Jeffrey C (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0006
Paxton, Ken (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0006
Rhea, Heather Kriscenski (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-9001
Rivera, Joe (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-9000
Starr, Brantley David (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-0006
Sullivan, John C. (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-9001
Trevino, Afton R (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-TX-0024-9000

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