updated 2/2/2006 5:38:05 AM ET 2006-02-02T10:38:05

A new Wisconsin law barring the use of state tax money for prisoner sex changes won’t stop four inmates from getting hormone treatments until at least August.

The law took effect last week, but two groups have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the inmates, challenging the statute as unconstitutional.

Judge Charles Clevert Jr. issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the state from stopping the hormone treatments until he holds a hearing on the matter. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

The law bars the state Department of Correction from using tax dollars for hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery to treat prisoners for gender identity disorder, in which a person believes he or she belongs to the opposite sex.

The four plaintiffs are the only Wisconsin prisoners getting hormone therapy, which costs from $675 to $1,600 a year.

The inmates claim that stopping the treatments would be cruel and unusual punishment and would violate their right to equal protection.

The legal fight about the treatment started in 2003, when inmate Scott Konitzer filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections seeking gender reassignment surgery.

Now known as Donna Dawn Konitzer, she has been getting hormone therapy as treatment for gender identity disorder since 1999.

State Rep. Mark Gundrum, a Republican and one of the law’s authors, predicted the law would withstand the challenge.

“It’s ridiculous to ask the taxpayers to pay for this,” he said.

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