In­mate can get sex change

Judge rules that with­hold­ing such surgery would vi­o­late con­victed mur­derer’s con­sti­tu­tional rights.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Ryan Parker ryan.parker@la­times.com Twit­ter: @TheRyanParker

A fed­eral judge Thurs­day or­dered that a Cal­i­for­nia pri­son in­mate be al­lowed to un­dergo gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery.

Should the op­er­a­tion oc­cur, it would be the first in state pri­son his­tory and cost as much as $100,000, said Joyce Hay­hoe, spokes­woman for Cal­i­for­nia Cor­rec­tions Health Care Ser­vices.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Jon Ti­gar in San Fran­cisco ruled that Michelle-Lael Nor­swor­thy’s con­sti­tu­tional rights would be vi­o­lated if the in­mate’s “se­ri­ous med­i­cal need” was not met, ac­cord­ing to the rul­ing.

Nor­swor­thy, 51, is housed at Mule Creek State Pri­son in Ione. Nor­swor­thy, born Jef­frey Bryan Nor­swor­thy, was con­victed of mur­der, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Nor­swor­thy, who has iden­ti­fied as a woman since the 1990s, has suf­fered se­vere dys­pho­ria, or dis­sat­is­fac­tion with her life, due to her nat­u­ral-born gen­der, Ti­gar said in the rul­ing.

“The weight of the ev­i­dence demon­strates that for Nor­swor­thy, the only ad­e­quate med­i­cal treat­ment for her gen­der dys­pho­ria” is sex­ual re­as­sign­ment surgery, Ti­gar said in his rul­ing.

The Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions de­nied the “nec­es­sary treat­ment” for rea­sons un­re­lated to med­i­cal need, ac­cord­ing to the rul­ing.

“The ev­i­dence sug­gests that Nor­swor­thy’s re­quest for SRS was de­nied be­cause [the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions] has a blan­ket pol­icy bar­ring SRS as a treat­ment for trans­gen­der in­mates,” Ti­gar wrote.

State pri­son of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing ap­peal­ing the rul­ing, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

Nor­swor­thy en­tered pri­son in April 1987, ac­cord­ing to records. She be­gan iden­ti­fy­ing as a woman in the 1990s and was di­ag­nosed with dys­pho­ria in Jan­uary 2000, ac­cord­ing to the rul­ing.

The op­er­a­tion is to take place in the near fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to the rul­ing.

“De­fen­dants shall take all of the ac­tions rea­son­ably nec­es­sary to pro­vide Nor­swor­thy sex re­as­sign­ment surgery as promptly as pos­si­ble,” the rul­ing said.

Hay­hoe said her of­fice was re­view­ing the rul­ing to “de­ter­mine the next steps.”

Sur­gi­cal op­er­a­tions do not take place at prisons in Cal­i­for­nia, Hay­hoe said. All op­er­a­tions, are done at com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals.

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