AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Your tax dollars are now going to pay for Texas inmates to receive hormone therapy to manage "intersex conditions and Gender Dysphoria."
A recent policy change within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) allows inmates to receive such therapy, even if they did not have treatment prior to their incarceration.
Gender Dysphoria is a commonly recognized diagnosis for a person who experiences distress with the gender assigned to them at birth.
The TDCJ, through the State of Texas, will now pay for hormone therapy that changes the balance of hormones in the body, causing the user to develop secondary characteristics of their desired sex. The state will not pay for sexual reassignment surgery, even under the new policy.
The policy also states treatment will only be administered after inmates are evaluated by the appropriate medical and mental health care professionals. Treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis. TDCJ deemed the policy change necessary since inmates do not forfeit their rights for medical treatment upon entering the state prison system.
Licensed Professional Counselor Kaye Renshaw said Texas taxpayers will be paying to help these inmates whether they know it or not.
"We're going to spend that money one way or another," Renshaw said. "Whether we are treating the effects of the depression through antidepressant medication, counseling, or therapy, which is not likely going to receive benefit, or to invest that money in hormones which is likely to receive the benefits."
Renshaw said people with Gender Dysphoria are often severely depressed, and stopping treatment may cause more harm than good.
"To stop that treatment suddenly is going to send them likely into an even worse state of depression and it's going to reflect in them becoming emotionally disturbed, possibly psychotic, and maybe suicidal," Renshaw said. "Even from a physiological standpoint to stop the hormone treatment they can experience some pretty severe side effects such as Osteoporosis, their breast tissue may diminish, muscular changes, they may gain weight, their mood is going to change, and their emotions may become very labile which can affect their behavior."
People with Gender Dysphoria often go through a period of self-understanding before determining whether or not to begin therapy. Renshaw said when they come to that realization, even if imprisoned, delaying treatment can further their depression.
"As they're going through those stages they're likely to become increasingly Dysphoria or depressed," Renshaw said. "As they become depressed the need to consider doing something or being proactive is going to increase and not having the ability to be able to make those changes is going to result in increased depression."