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Denegal v. Farrell

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 7, 2016

R. FARRELL, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Dwayne Denegal, also known as Fatima Shabazz, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         On September 14, 2015, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint and dismissed it, with leave to amend, on the ground it failed to state a cognizable claim. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint is before the Court for screening.


         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).


         Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.


         Plaintiff is incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("CSATF"), where the acts giving rise to her complaint occurred. She names the following defendants in their individual and official capacities: (1). Psychologist R. Farrell, Psy.D.; (2) Chief Psychologist R. Coffin, Psy.D.; (3) Clarence Cryer, CEO of CSATF Medical Department; (4) J. Lewis, Deputy Director, Policy and Risk Management, California Correctional Healthcare; and (5) J. Sunduram, Primary Care Physician on A Yard.

         Her allegations may be summarized essentially as follows:

         Plaintiff is a transgender woman.[1] She experiences gender dysphoria and distress resulting from the incongruence between her male anatomy and female gender identity. She has lived openly as a female since 2000, and has been on feminizing hormones since 2014. She continues to experience dysphoria despite hormone therapy. She believes sex reassignment surgery is medically necessary treatment for her gender dysphoria. However, she has been denied such surgery by Defendants.

         A. History Prior to Incarceration at CSATF

         Plaintiff was born in 1963. During adolescence she felt uncomfortable with her male gender. As early as ten or eleven years of age, Plaintiff felt herself to be a female. She was antagonized by her parents for displaying a female identity. Plaintiff began "hanging out" with the transgender community in New York City. At age twelve, Plaintiff had a sexual encounter with a male friend, came out to said friend, and then was beaten and raped by the friend and a group of other boys.

         By age fifteen, Plaintiff's parents suspected she was gay. Plaintiff fathered a son. At age sixteen, she began dressing as a woman and became a prostitute and drug dealer. By age nineteen, she was incarcerated in the New York correctional system. There, Plaintiff tried unsuccessfully to hide her gender identity. She was raped by inmates and staff.

         Plaintiff eventually was released on parole and became more "outwardly visible" as a woman. Plaintiff began a relationship with a gay woman who Plaintiff lived with as "man and wife" and with whom Plaintiff had several additional children. Plaintiff's partner often dressed as a male and Plaintiff as a female.

         Plaintiff and her partner moved to Georgia, where Plaintiff again was incarcerated. Plaintiff hid her gender identity until release. Upon her release, Plaintiff began dating other transgender women.

         In 2000, Plaintiff's mother died and she began living full-time as a woman.

         Plaintiff moved to California in 2006. She was incarcerated in 2008 and released in 2010. Upon release, Plaintiff began experimenting with "black market" feminizing hormones. Plaintiff was arrested again later in 2010 and was housed in the Los Angeles County Jail. There, Plaintiff was focused on her case and did not pursue hormones.

         Plaintiff was transferred to the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2010, and was placed in North Kern State Prison Reception in Delano, California. There, she attempted to see a "transgender doctor" but was unable to do so.

         B. Incarceration at CSATF

         Plaintiff transferred to CSATF on October 11, 2012.

         In April 2013, Plaintiff submitted a medical services request to meet with the facility endocrinologist and be placed on feminizing hormones. She met with non-party Dr. Kumar in May 2013. Dr. Kumar referred Plaintiff to mental health for ...

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