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Thread: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

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    Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) A federal judge on Thursday ordered California's corrections department to provide a transgender inmate with sex reassignment surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state.

    U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco ruled that denying the surgery to 51-year-old Michelle-Lael Norsworthy violates her constitutional rights. Her birth name is Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy.

    The ruling marks just the second time nationwide that a judge has issued an injunction directing a state prison system to provide the surgery, said Ilona Turner, legal director at the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, which helped represent Norsworthy.

    The previous order in a Massachusetts case was overturned last year and is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In his ruling in California, Tigar cited testimony that the surgery has actually been performed just once on an inmate, an apparent reference to a person who castrated himself in Texas then was given the surgery out of necessity.

    Norsworthy, who was convicted of murder, has lived as a woman since the 1990s and has what Tigar termed severe gender dysphoria a condition that occurs when people's gender at birth is contrary to the way they identify themselves.

    "The weight of the evidence demonstrates that for Norsworthy, the only adequate medical treatment for her gender dysphoria is SRS," Tigar wrote, referring to sex reassignment surgery.

    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said they were considering whether to appeal the ruling.

    "This decision confirms that it is unlawful to deny essential treatment to transgender people" in or out of prison, said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. "The bottom line is no one should be denied the medical care they need."

    If the order stands, Norsworthy would be the first inmate to receive such surgery in California, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver who controls California prison medical care.

    Hayhoe said it's not known how much the surgery would cost, but it could run as high as $100,000 depending on the circumstances. The Transgender Law Center called the estimate "a gross exaggeration" and said Medi-Cal, California's health care program for low-income residents, has covered the procedure for years.

    Corrections officials, in previous court filings, argued that Norsworthy has received proper medical and mental health care for more than 15 years and is in no immediate medical danger if the surgery is not performed.

    Her care has included counseling, mental health treatment and hormone therapy that the department said "has changed her physical appearance and voice to that of a woman" while helping her find her gender identity.

    That care is consistent with what other judges nationwide have found to be appropriate for transgender inmates, the department said.

    Norsworthy has been in prison since 1987, serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. She has twice delayed her scheduled parole hearings in recent months.

    She currently is housed at Mule Creek State Prison, an all-male prison in Ione, 40 miles southeast of Sacramento.

    The sex change surgery would prompt practical problems, the department said.

    It said keeping Norsworthy in a men's prison could invite violence, including possible assault and rape.

    But she could also face danger at a women's prison or pose a threat herself because she had a history of domestic violence before her murder conviction, the department said.

    Last month, attorneys for the transgender inmate convicted of murder in Massachusetts asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling denying her request for sex reassignment surgery.

    A federal judge in 2012 ordered the Massachusetts Department of Correction to grant the surgery to Michelle Kosilek, but the ruling was overturned in December by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    As in California, the appeal in Massachusetts cited security concerns about protecting the inmate.

    Courts in other states have ordered hormone treatments, psychotherapy and other treatments but not surgery.
    Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    So he's getting a free surgery, that, had he not been in prison, he'd have to pay for himself?

    I don't see how this makes any sense.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by ggwilder View Post
    Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    So he's getting a free surgery, that, had he not been in prison, he'd have to pay for himself?

    I don't see how this makes any sense.
    It makes sense if he's been living as a woman for almost 30 years, has been taking hormones to develop breasts and female contours, and is being housed in an all-male prison. You can imagine the problems. As a physical female, she can be transferred to a woman's prison, where she will supposedly fit in more comfortably. I'm a Californian and I don't have a problem with this tax-supported surgery. Transgenders have enough problems just being who they are. They deserve a bit of empathy and whatever comfort the surgery can provide.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by DiAnna View Post
    It makes sense if he's been living as a woman for almost 30 years, has been taking hormones to develop breasts and female contours, and is being housed in an all-male prison. You can imagine the problems. As a physical female, she can be transferred to a woman's prison, where she will supposedly fit in more comfortably. I'm a Californian and I don't have a problem with this tax-supported surgery. Transgenders have enough problems just being who they are. They deserve a bit of empathy and whatever comfort the surgery can provide.
    I just think that it's not fair.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by ggwilder View Post
    I just think that it's not fair.
    Life isn't fair. Certainly, transgenders are more aware of this than most.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by DiAnna View Post
    It makes sense if he's been living as a woman for almost 30 years, has been taking hormones to develop breasts and female contours, and is being housed in an all-male prison. You can imagine the problems. As a physical female, she can be transferred to a woman's prison, where she will supposedly fit in more comfortably. I'm a Californian and I don't have a problem with this tax-supported surgery. Transgenders have enough problems just being who they are. They deserve a bit of empathy and whatever comfort the surgery can provide.
    well, I don't have much sympathy for convicted murderers serving life in prison... and I don't think the taxpayers footing the bill for a very expensive elective surgery for said murderer is the best use of funding that can most assuredly be used more wisely.

    I'd still send her to the womens prison , though...

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrilla View Post
    well, I don't have much sympathy for convicted murderers serving life in prison... and I don't think the taxpayers footing the bill for a very expensive elective surgery for said murderer is the best use of funding that can most assuredly be used more wisely.

    I'd still send her to the womens prison , though...
    I hear you. I have no sympathy for murderers either, although I do wonder if living with this severe dysphoria all her life might have contributed to her crime. She cannot be sent to a women's prison with male genitalia, unfortunately.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by DiAnna View Post
    I hear you. I have no sympathy for murderers either, although I do wonder if living with this severe dysphoria all her life might have contributed to her crime. She cannot be sent to a women's prison with male genitalia, unfortunately.
    not sure of the particulars of her case... but it's possible her condition might have contributed.

    I get some of the rules about genitalia, but the ones size fits all rule really doesn't work well with some of these rare cases.
    doesn't mean we need to crank out 100k to add or subtract a penis, but some sort of accommodation surely can be made.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by DiAnna View Post
    It makes sense if he's been living as a woman for almost 30 years, has been taking hormones to develop breasts and female contours, and is being housed in an all-male prison. You can imagine the problems. As a physical female, she can be transferred to a woman's prison, where she will supposedly fit in more comfortably. I'm a Californian and I don't have a problem with this tax-supported surgery. Transgenders have enough problems just being who they are. They deserve a bit of empathy and whatever comfort the surgery can provide.
    Trans do, murderers not so much. Sorry.
    Climate, changes. It takes a particularly uneducated population to buy into the idea that it's their fault climate is changing and further political solutions can fix it.



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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrilla View Post
    not sure of the particulars of her case... but it's possible her condition might have contributed.

    I get some of the rules about genitalia, but the ones size fits all rule really doesn't work well with some of these rare cases.
    doesn't mean we need to crank out 100k to add or subtract a penis, but some sort of accommodation surely can be made.
    That 100K figure is nuts. Someone just pulled it out of their ass to whip the plebes into a frenzy. Prison surgical procedures are procured on the cheap by the state, by doctors willing to accept fairly basic pay, and that particular surgery is fairly routine, believe it or not. I'd be surprised if the state paid more than about 15K, if that.

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    Re: Judge orders California to pay for inmate's sex change

    Quote Originally Posted by MrVicchio View Post
    Trans do, murderers not so much. Sorry.
    It's kind of a rights issue. The courts don't allow cruel/unusual punishment regardless of the crime, and I believe (I could be wrong) that the court ruled that keeping a full-breasted woman in a male prison should not be allowed.

    I'm not going to picket for her or anything, just explaining why I don't think having the surgery done in prison in order to transfer her to a women's prison is a bad idea.

    I also imagine keeping her in solitary for her own protection is both a rights issue and a safety issue which probably costs as much as just doing the danged surgery and shipping her off to be part of the general population of a female prison.

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