California ordered to change the sex of an inmate
April 3, 2015
A federal judge has ordered the state of California to allow a prison inmate to undergo gender reassignment surgery. [LA Times]
U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar ruled in San Francisco that the state was violating Michelle-Lael Norsworthy’s constitutional rights by refusing to provide her care for a “serious medical need.” Norsworthy, a 51-year-old who is serving time for second-degree murder, was born a man but has identified as a woman since the 1990s.
If the gender reassignment operation occurs, it will be the first in state prison history, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for California Corrections Health Care Services. The surgery could cost as much as $100,000.
Norsworthy has suffered severe dyshporia, or dissatisfaction with her life, due to her natural-born gender, Tigar said in the ruling. The only adequate medical treatment for her gender dysphoria is sexual reassignment surgery, the judge stated.
The ruling also said that Norsworthy was denied the surgery because the Department of Corrections has a blanket policy barring transgender inmates from receiving reassignment surgeries.
Norsworthy began life with the first name Jeffrey. She entered prison in April 1987, prior to identifying as a woman, according to records.
Norsworthy was diagnosed with dysphoria in January 2000, according to the judge’s ruling. She is currently housed at Mule Creek State Prison, a facility exclusively for special needs.
The ruling states that the operation must take place in the near future.