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Transgender inmate sues corrections agency

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A transgender inmate is suing Florida Department of Corrections officials for refusing to allow her to continue hormone treatments and for forcing her to dress as a man.

Reiyn Keohane, 22, has lived as a female since she was 14, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday on her behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

The lawsuit, filed in Tallahassee, accuses corrections officials of violating the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide treatment for Keohane, an inmate at Everglades Correctional Institution.

According to the complaint, Keohane received hormone treatments for gender dysphoria before her 2013 arrest on an attempted second-degree murder charge.

Keohane was first incarcerated in Lee County, where jail officials discontinued the treatment.

Keohane accepted a plea agreement in 2014, believing she would be able to resume the hormone treatments after being transferred to the Department of Corrections, according to the complaint.

Corrections officials, including health care providers, repeatedly refused to grant her requests to continue the treatments, based on a policy that only allows inmates who are taking the medications when they enter prison to keep receiving the treatment.

Keohane, who accused prison officials of making her "into something less than a man or a woman," on separate occasions attempted to castrate herself and strangle herself since her transfer to the state prison system two years ago, according to the court document.

"I have been denied at every level, told by doctors that I'm not transgender, refused hormone therapy even though I had taken it on the streets, and had to go weeks without being able to shave after being put in confinement for wearing women's clothing or standing up for my rights," Keohane wrote in a letter provided by the ACLU.

Early Monday evening, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said in an email that the agency had not yet received the complaint but would "thoroughly review it upon receipt."