United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
ELMER D. CHARLES, JR., Plaintiff,
RON NEAL, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Simon Judge
D. Charles, Jr. a pro se prisoner being held at the
Indiana State Prison, is a biological male, but identifies as
a female. For clarity, I will utilize female pronouns where
appropriate. Charles has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Ron Neal, the Superintendent of the
Indiana State Prison (ISP), and Robert Carter, Commissioner
of the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC).
is a biological male but suffers from Klinefelter's
Syndrome. Here is how Klinefelter's Syndrome has been
described: “Most men inherit a single X chromosome from
their mother, and a single Y chromosome from their father.
Men with Klinefelter syndrome inherit an extra X chromosome
from either father or mother; their karyotype is 47 XXY.
Klinefelter is quite common, occurring in 1/500 to 1, 000
male births. Boys with Klinefelter are usually born with male
genitals that look like other boys. But at puberty, they may
not virilize very strongly - they may not develop much body
hair, or they may experience breast development . . ..
Although most boys with Klinefelter Syndrome grow up to live
as men, some do develop atypical gender identities, and some
do develop female gender identities.” Intersex Society
of North America, Klinefelter Syndrom,
visited August 25, 2017). Charles tells me that she also
suffers from Gender Identify Disorder (GID) which occurs when
there is a conflict between a person's physical gender
and the gender he or she identifies with. See
Medline Plus, Gender dysphoria,
(last visited August 25, 2017).
has sued the ISP Superintendent and IDOC Commissioner based
on how she is being treated at ISP. Although there are some
disturbing allegations about what is alleged to have happened
to Charles while she was previously incarcerated at Wabash
Valley, she has not sued anyone from that institution.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review a prisoner complaint
and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. Under federal pleadings standards, the plaintiff
“must do better than putting a few words on paper that,
in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest
that something has happened to [him] that might be
redressed by the law.” Swanson v. Citibank,
N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in
original). Instead, the plaintiff must provide sufficient
factual matter to state a claim that is plausible on its
face. Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662-63
(7th Cir. 2011).
Charles complains that the defendants are allowing male
correctional officers to conduct strip searches of her.
Charles complains that this forces her to expose her breasts
to male guards, which is traumatic since she is a victim of
past sexual assaults. While I sympathize with Charles'
past experiences, there is nothing improper about male guards
conducting a strip search of her. In a typical situation,
female guards are permitted to conduct strip searches of male
[F]emale guards are . . . bound to see the male prisoners in
states of undress. Frequently. Deliberately. Otherwise they
are not doing their jobs. . . .. [F]emale guards are entitled
to participate in the normal activities of guarding,
including pat-down searches of male inmates.
Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 146 (7th Cir. 1995).
Since female guards have the authority to see male inmates
fully naked and to conduct searches for the security of the
jail, it logically follows that male guards have the
authority to see Charles naked and to conduct strip searches
of her as well. Charles does not allege that the strip
searches are being performed for any impermissible purpose.
See King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 897 (7th Cir.
2017) (noting that strip searches can violate the Eighth
Amendment if they are motivated by a desire to harass and
humiliate rather than by a legitimate justification).
Therefore, this allegation, as currently stated, does not
state a constitutional claim. If however the searches of her
are being done for reasons unrelated to a legitimate
penological purpose, then a claim may be stated. But at
present there is no allegation of that.
Charles complains that her strip searches, use of the
bathroom, showering and changing of clothes are being viewed
on camera by male guards. She wants all of those activities
to be private and unmonitored. However, for prison safety,
male guards are entitled to be present or monitor these
activities. Courtney v. Devore, 595 Fed.Appx. 618,
619-20 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Johnson v. Phelan, 69
F.3d 144 (7th Cir. 1995)).
worth noting that many of Charles' concerns surrounding
male guards at ISP seeing her naked stem from her previous
stay at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. As I mentioned
at the outset, Charles alleges some egregious, indeed
criminal, behavior on the part of the guards and fellow
inmates at Wabash. She says she was sexually assaulted by
other inmates no less than 38 times while being held at
Wabash Valley and on “October 18, 2005, she was
violantly[sic] sexually assaulted by four correctional
officers.” ECF 1 at 4. Charles apparently fears for her
safety at ISP based on her experiences at Wabash. Certainly,
if Charles were suing those four Wabash prison guards for
sexually assaulting her, that would obviously state a
claim. Washington v. Hively, 695 F.3d 641, 643 (7th
that does not seem to be the case. Charles' allegations
about past sexual abuse seem to be included in the complaint
simply to validate her present concerns about male guards at
ISP. Notably, Charles has not named any of the four guards as
defendants in this case. And, while she would certainly have
a valid claim against those four officers, this does not
appear to be the proper venue to pursue those claims. The
abuse allegations stem from when Charles was housed at
Wabash, which is within the geographical boundaries of the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Indiana. Because all four guards are located in the Southern
District of Indiana and the alleged abuse occurred in that
district, if Charles intends to pursue these claims, she
should file a lawsuit in United States District Court for the
Southern District of Indiana.
Charles complains that she is not permitted to “have
make-up, female hygiene items thats [sic] allowed at the
Indiana Women Dept of Corrections.” ECF 1 at 2. The
Eighth Amendment prohibits conditions of confinement that
deny inmates “the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities.” Townsend v. Fuchs,
522 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir. 2008). In evaluating an Eighth
Amendment claim, the Court conducts both an objective and a
subjective inquiry. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
832 (1994). The objective prong asks whether the
alleged deprivation or condition of confinement is
“sufficiently serious” so that “a prison
official's act results in the denial of the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.”
Id. Although “the Constitution does not
mandate comfortable prisons, ” Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981), inmates are entitled
to adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, bedding,
hygiene materials, and sanitation. Knight v.
Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009); Gillis
v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006). On the
subjective prong, the prisoner must show the defendant acted
with deliberate indifference her health or safety.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834.
unclear what, exactly, Charles is seeking but being denied.
While Charles would certainly prefer to have all the
traditional accoutrements that women have at a woman's
prison, the constitution does not require it. There is
nothing in the complaint that plausibly alleges Charles is
being denied any of life's necessities. Thus, the
complaint fails to state a claim here, too.
Charles complains that she is not receiving sex reassignment
surgery to deal with her Klinefelter's syndrome and GID.
Under the Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to adequate
medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). To establish liability, a prisoner must satisfy both
an objective and subjecting component by showing: (1) her
medical need was objectively serious; and (2) the defendant
acted with deliberate indifference to that medical need.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A
medical need is “serious” if it is one that a
physician has diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize
the necessity for a doctor's attention. Greeno v.
Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). On the
subjective prong, the plaintiff must establish that the
defendant “acted in an intentional or criminally
reckless manner, i.e., the ...