Unmentioned in the ACLU’s lawsuit demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for a prison inmate’s gender transition surgery is that its plaintiff — a man named Jonathan Richardson who now goes by Autumn Cordellioné — is behind bars for murdering an 11-month-old baby.
On Monday, the ACLU’s Indiana branch filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of Richardson, demanding he be allowed to get transgender genital surgery while imprisoned. The lawsuit gives almost no biographical information about Richardson, aside from that he is an “adult transgender female prisoner confined in a male institution within the Indiana Department of Correction.”
The 41-year-old Richardson was convicted of murdering his 11-month-old stepdaughter in Evansville, Indiana, in 2001, according to Indiana Department of Correction records.
The baby’s autopsy showed she had been manually strangled to death while her mother was at work, according to court documents from Richardson’s appeal. He told detectives that he also shook the child “in a rough manner,” the appeal documents said.
At one point while he was incarcerated, Richardson told corrections officers, “Well all I know is I killed the little f***ing bitch.”
Richardson was sentenced to 55 years behind bars in 2002. His earliest possible release date is 2027.
The ACLU’s lawsuit seeks to block an Indiana law that bars the corrections department from using taxpayer money for “sexual reassignment surgery” for prisoners.
Richardson was diagnosed with gender dysphoria after he was incarcerated at Branchville Correctional Facility, a men’s prison in southern Indiana, the lawsuit says. He has been taking “a female hormone and testosterone” since 2020, according to the complaint.
However, he still suffers from “serious depression and anxiety,” and gender surgery is now a “medical necessity,” the complaint says.
Indiana’s new law, which went into effect on July 1, violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits excessive punishments, because it shows “deliberate indifference to a serious medical need,” and it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection clause because it discriminates against trans-identifying people, the lawsuit argues.
The ACLU is demanding a preliminary injunction blocking the law so Richardson can get gender surgery, specifically an orchiectomy (the removal of his testicles) and a vaginoplasty (the construction of a vagina). He was previously on a list to be evaluated for surgery before the new law took effect, according to the complaint.
Richardson is a “woman trapped in a man’s body” and has identified as female since he was six years old, the complaint claims. He has been able to obtain “panties, make up, and form fitting clothing” in prison, but his genitals still cause him distress, and he has attempted suicide because of his gender dysphoria, the complaint says.
“She has soiled herself rather than use the toilet because of the stress of seeing her genitals,” the complaint states.
The ACLU did not respond to a request for comment.
The office of Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita pushed back on the lawsuit in a statement Monday, saying the state’s taxpayers do not want their money going toward gender surgeries for prisoners.
“The approximate cost of these surgeries ranges from $10,000 to $150,000,” Rokita’s office said. “This is not necessary medical treatment – it is an atrocity. This should be common sense, which is something the ACLU continuously ignores. We will not back down and will continue to back the rule of law.”
A number of incarcerated trans-identifying men have requested cross-sex hormones and genital surgeries over the last few years.
Last year, a trans-identifying male inmate at a women’s prison in Texas became the first federal prisoner to get gender surgery. He had been convicted of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.
In 2020, an Idaho state prison inmate received gender surgery after years of battling the state, which originally refused to pay for it. He had been convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy while he slept.