California ordered to change the sex of an inmate

April 3, 2015
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Michelle-Lael Norsworthy

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.


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29 Comments

  1. CentralcoastRN says:

    Ok. While it can be argued this man/woman needs this surgery to feel whole, the taxpayers are not obligated to pay for it. He committed murder. He is entitled to lifesaving care. He can urinate out of the working, functioning genitalia he was born with. He is in prison, not a resort.

    If he needed a heart transplant, that would be different. He could not survive without a beating heart.

    (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
    • Rich in MB says:

      “the taxpayers are not obligated to pay for it.”

      How dare you, you bigot….of course the Tax Payer has to pay for the Chopadickoftomy…how care you!

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. PismoFA says:

    I am surprised that everyone in the comments section seems to be outraged and many are actually comparing this to elective cosmetic surgery. While I do agree that this totally sucks… where is the state supposed to safely put a prisoner who resembles a woman but has the equipment of a man? I know where most people will say to put this person, but the state has a responsibility it cannot avoid. Yes, while it comes down to costs, it clearly states that Norsworthy is in a special needs facility (undoubtedly separated from general pop.)….the costs to keep this person in a special needs facility vs the $7,000 to $20,000 for the cost of gender reassignment? It must have made more financial sense to the state to opt for the latter.

    (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
    • Kevin Rice says:

      “as much as $100,000” in all reports I’ve read. Why do you appear to arbitrarily cap it at $20,000?

      Also, reports state Norsworthy has twice delayed parole hearings, suggesting a desire to stay in prison for the free surgery.

      (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
      • PismoFA says:

        CA Corrections says “up to $100,000″ while those in Norsworthy’s defense say $15,000-$30,000.” I picked a figure to validate my case, just as you did yours :) It is interesting though that Medicare and even Medi-Cal covers gender reassignment… so theoretically, someone could also fraudulently work the state system and have Medi-Cal cover their surgery. I am not for this, in fact I think this is a slippery slope, I just think it is an interesting case.

        (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
        • Kevin Rice says:

          You arbitrarily reduced your figure from $30K to $20K?

          (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
          • PismoFA says:

            And you picked “up to $100,000” leaving absolutely no risk in you being wrong just as long as the end cost ends up being less than $100k. There’s a lot of leeway there… and I am aware that you know the definition of the word “arbitrarily.” I am very impressed :) I picked $20,000 because the estimated cost of vaginoplasty according to thetransgendercenter.com is $19,750. I rounded to the nearest thousand. Although this has absolutely nothing to do with my point. Maybe if you had a more valid one you wouldn’t have to arbitrarily attack my figures.

            (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
            • shelworth says:

              Uh, hello?, it’s our government, why would they spend 20k when they can do it for 100k?

              (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • tictac1 says:

      A simple DNA test will tell you if someone is a man or woman, regardless of how they “identify”. I may “identify” as a lizard, but my DNA says otherwise. You can get all the surgeries and therapy you want, and insist others play along with your fantasy world, but when some archaeologist digs you up, your DNA will still have the same story to tell.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

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