Metro Weekly

Transgender inmate challenging Florida’s law found dead in cell

Florida's Department of Corrections does not allow transgender inmates to change their names or gender designation

Stacy Lorraine Naber - Photo: Florida Department of Corrections.
Stacy Lorraine Naber – Photo: Florida Department of Corrections.

A transgender inmate who was challenging Florida’s laws regarding transgender prisoners was found dead in her cell on Aug. 6 at the Dade Correctional Institution, reports the Miami Herald. Unfortunately, those same laws will now result in her being listed by her assigned name at birth on her death certificate, in opposition to her wishes.

Stacy Lorraine Naber, who was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, had been attempting to amend her birth certificate to reflect her correct name and gender. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fought on behalf of Naber, alleging that Florida’s Department of Corrections was unwilling to make accommodations for transgender inmates. As part of that complaint, Naber and her lawyers argued that changing her name and being referred to by proper pronouns was a form of psychological therapy, and therefore was considered medically necessary treatment.

While corrections officials offered a “compromise” by which Naber would be referred to using female pronouns, the Department of Corrections insisted that it could not change its current policy for other inmates. Instead, they argued the department had “legitimate penalogical interests of security and administration” by requiring inmates to be addressed by the names they used when they were incarcerated.

Even after her death, Naber continued to be misgendered by officials from the Department of Corrections. Michelle Glady, a spokeswoman for the department, issued a statement saying: “Inmate Naber was pronounced deceased on August 6, 2016. At the time of the inmate’s death, he (sic) was in administrative housing at Dade Correctional Institution and was housed alone. The death is currently under investigation by [the Florida Department of Law Enforcement], with assistance from the department’s Office of the Inspector General.”

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet completed its investigation into the cause of Naber’s death. Naber was reportedly under protective supervision at the time of her death. 

Following Naber’s death, her lawyers with the ACLU asked a federal judge to dismiss their lawsuit. However, the organization has filed a separate but similar lawsuit on behalf of a transgender woman serving a 15-year sentence at Everglades Correctional Institution. That lawsuit is challenging the Department of Corrections over its denial of hormone therapy and other medical treatments to treat gender dysphoria. The woman in that case, Reiyn Keohane, had her name officially changed in 2011, and had begun hormone therapy prior to her incarceration. But since accepting a plea deal and serving her sentence, the ACLU claims the Department of Corrections has denied Keohane access to hormones and other treatments.

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