SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered California’s corrections department to provide a transsexual inmate with sex change surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state.
U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco ruled Thursday that denying sex reassignment surgery to 51-year-old Michelle-Lael Norsworthy violates her constitutional rights. Her birth name is Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy.
The ruling says it would be the second time nationwide that such a surgery has been performed on an inmate, an apparent reference to an inmate 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.
“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.
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