86 F.3d 761 (8th Cir. 1996), 95-1613, Long v. Nix

Docket Nº:95-1613.
Citation:86 F.3d 761
Party Name:Merlin C. LONG, Appellant, v. Crispus C. NIX; Sally Chandler-Halford, as Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections; Thomas Hundley, Warden of ISP; Paul W. Grossheim; Paul W. Loeffelholz; Appellees.
Case Date:June 07, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 761

86 F.3d 761 (8th Cir. 1996)

Merlin C. LONG, Appellant,


Crispus C. NIX; Sally Chandler-Halford, as Director of the

Iowa Department of Corrections; Thomas Hundley,

Warden of ISP; Paul W. Grossheim; Paul

W. Loeffelholz; Appellees.

No. 95-1613.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 7, 1996

Submitted Feb. 23, 1996.

Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied July 15, 1996.

Page 762

Pamela Frasher, Student Legal Intern, Iowa City, IA, argued (John B. Whiston, Steven Heim, and Theresa Hodnett, on the brief), for appellant.

William A. Hill, Asst. Atty. Gen., Des Moines, IA, argued for appellee.

Before BOWMAN, LOKEN, and HANSEN, Circuit Judges.

BOWMAN, Circuit Judge.

Merlin C. Long is serving a life sentence at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) for the brutal murder of a woman. See Long v. Brewer, 253 N.W.2d 549, 551 (Iowa 1977). He filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1994) lawsuit against officials of the Iowa Department of Corrections seeking, among other things, treatment for a gender-identity disorder and damages for the defendants' alleged deliberate indifference to his gender-identity disorder. Based on the evidence introduced during a one-day bench trial, the District Court 1 held that (1) the extent of Long's gender-identity disorder does not constitute a serious

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medical need, (2) even if Long has a serious medical need, the defendants were not deliberately indifferent to that need, and (3) the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity from Long's claim for damages. Long v. Nix, 877 F.Supp. 1358, 1365-67 (S.D.Iowa 1995). Long timely appeals from the judgment of the District Court, and we affirm.


Long began his stay at ISP in 1964. He arrived in full drag, but initially prison officials refused to let him wear women's clothes. Following a hunger strike that began shortly after his arrival, Long was allowed to wear women's clothes and make-up on a regular basis. This privilege, however, was revoked in 1981 after a member of the Iowa Parole Board complained to prison officials about Long's attire. Since 1981 Long repeatedly has sought permission to wear women's clothing and make-up. ISP officials have denied his request each time. He also has requested hormone therapy and sex-change surgery. Aside from these requests, however, Long has not sought, nor have prison health services employees ordered, any treatment for a gender-identity disorder. In fact, Long has repeatedly refused to cooperate with prison psychologists and psychiatrists over the past twenty years. See Long, 877 F.Supp. at 1362; see also Program Review Committee Pre-Parole Evaluation (Feb. 3, 1978); Psychiatric Consultation (Apr. 24, 1981); Psychiatric Evaluation (Feb. 15, 1986).

As the District Court found, Long's 1990 evaluation was unproductive because Long presented himself in a "hostile and belligerent," "verbally abusive and abrasive manner." Long, 877 F.Supp. at 1362. During his 1991 psychological evaluation, all Long requested was "what he deserves": a transfer from ISP to a less structured setting. Id. The psychologist concluded that "[a]t this point in time there are no psychological or psychiatric issues that need to be addressed." Psychological Evaluation (Jan. 30, 1991). In 1992, Long "indicated no mental health issues or problems," and the psychologist concluded that there were no psychological issues that needed to be addressed. Psychological Evaluation (Jan. 29, 1992). In 1993, Long refused to participate in a psychological interview and "no meaningful psychological report" was submitted. Long, 877 F.Supp. at 1362. In contrast to Long's behavior, the record shows that prison officials have been responsive to Long's requests for treatment when they were reasonable. In 1982, for example, Long requested "treatment and evaluation" at the Iowa State Medical Facility (ISMF). ISMF Referral (Feb. 12, 1982). His request was granted, and he was transferred to ISMF. Later that same year he was transferred at his own request to a Missouri maximum security prison where he was allowed to wear women's clothing at all times. In 1986 he returned to ISP. His complaints to a member of the medical staff at that time "center[ed] around the fact that he will not be allowed to have the numerous articles of female clothing which he owns." Psychiatric Evaluation (Feb. 15, 1986). Long, however, never has shown a continued interest in psychiatric evaluation or treatment either for depression or his gender-identity disorder. "In 1994, Long [again] declined to be interviewed for his...

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