A federal judge has ordered officials at a taxpayer-funded county prison in Pennsylvania to provide — and foot the cost for — hormone therapy treatment for transgender inmate Steven Fritz, a man who longs to become a woman and who prefers to go by the name Sparkles Wilson.
Judge Robert D. Mariani issued the order late Friday,reports The Scranton Times-Tribune.
Mariani’s ruling comes after Fritz had filed a $1 million-plus lawsuit alleging that he will suffer physical harm and mental trauma if he does not continue receiving regular estrogen infusions.
A prison doctor, Edward Zaloga, had challenged the judge’s order because, Zalonga said, side effects of the hormone treatments could harm Fritz.
However, Judge Mariani, an Obama appointee, overruled the doctor’s concerns. In his emergency order, Mariani held that Zalonga had presented insufficient evidence to support the claim that Fritz might be harmed.
Fritz’s lawsuit, filed by two Scranton attorneys, claims that the Lackawanna County Prison violated Fritz’sEighth Amendmentright to avoid cruel and unusual punishment when Zaloga refused to administer Premarin and Estrace, a pair of prescription hormone therapy drugs.
The drugs are part of a therapy regimen which Fritz is using to transition from male to female — and to appear more fully as Sparkles Wilson.
The lawsuit indicates that Fritz already had developed larger breasts after several months of hormone treatments.
Without the hormones, however, Fritz’s body has relapsed. Now, it looks more like the natural male body which with he has born.
“When Sparkles went in to the prison, she had already been prescribed the meds by other doctors,” said Curt Parkins, one of Fritz’s attorneys,according to Scranton ABC affiliate WNEP-TV. “There’s a big difference between abruptly stopping someone’s medication and refusing to begin to treat them. So, this case, in our opinion, is extra egregious.”
An attorney representing Zaloga, the doctor, said Zaloga will submit to the federal judge’s order but he is concerned that the medications could cause blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.
“We are concerned that the off-label, experimental use of the drugs could cause problems,” the attorney, Joseph “Jody” Healey said,according to the Standard-Speaker, a newspaper out of Hazelton, Pennsylvania. “We have no supporting medical testimony that suggests these side effects won’t happen.”
The reference to “off-label” means that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Premarin and Estrace for people seeking to grow larger breasts and otherwise transition from male to female.
Lackawanna County attorneys say Judge Mariani issued the order accusing Zaloga of providing no evidence of harm without actually allowing Zaloga or county officials to present such evidence in court, according to the Times-Tribune.
Parkins, the attorney representing Fritz, says Zaloga and county officials are being “disingenuous” because they provided Fritz with the hormones but they stopped.
“It is merely an excuse, now used to attempt to circumvent this court’s lawful and factually supported temporary restraining order,” Parkins argued, according to the Times-Tribune.
Fritz received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in January 2016. Gender dysphoria is a recently discovered condition which occurs when people insist they are the opposite sex despite their actual set of sex organs.
An article from June in the Times-Tribune notesthat Fritz has a lengthy rap sheet.
His latest brush with the law occurred in January when he was busted on charges including use of a stolen credit card and receiving stolen property.
Fritz has remained in jail on the most recent charges because he hasn’t posted bail.
Judge Mariani has scheduled a hearing forJuly 17for the prison doctor and county officials to provide evidence for why Fritz should not receive the hormone treatment.
Fritz’s attorneys say the $1 million lawsuit will continue regardless of the outcome of the hearing.
Meanwhile, Fritz, who is currently residing with male inmates, says he wants to move over to the female side of the Lackawanna County Prison.