CA Agrees to Pay for Surgery of Transgender Inmate

     (CN) – California will provide sex-reassignment surgery to a prison inmate for the first time, part of a settlement with a transgender inmate serving a life sentence.
     The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reached a settlement with Shiloh Quine, 56, a transgender inmate formerly known as Rodney Quine, agreeing to fund her sex-reassignment surgery and transfer her to a women’s facility. The state also agreed to revise its transgender-inmate policy and give inmates access to clothing and commissary items consistent with their gender identity.
     The Transgender Law Center, which represented Quine in the action, called the state’s announcement a “historic agreement” and a “tremendous victory” for transgender people denied proper medical care.
     “After years of unnecessary suffering, Shiloh will finally get the care she desperately needs – and transgender people nationwide will hear a state government affirm that our identities and medical needs are as valid as anyone else’s,” said the group’s executive director Kris Hayashi said in a statement.
     In its own statement, the CDCR cited the Eighth Amendment and advice from medical experts as reasons for temporarily changing its long-standing stance of refusing to provide sex-reassignment surgery.
     “CDCR evaluates every case individually and in the Quine case, every medical doctor and mental health clinician who has reviewed this case, including two independent mental health experts, determined that this surgery is medically necessary for Quine,” said Jeffrey Callison, CDCR press secretary.
     Quine’s settlement was announced the same day Gov. Jerry Brown decided to allow the release of another transgender inmate suing California for sex-reassignment surgery. The state said Michelle Lael-Norsworthy, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1987, could be released within a week.
     In April, a federal judge ordered the state to provide Norsworthy the surgery, ruling the CDCR violated her constitutional rights by denying her access to medical treatment.
     In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar derided the CDCR’s medical experts for having a “profound misunderstanding of gender dysphoria.” The state immediately appealed the decision to Ninth Circuit.
     Shortly after the state’s appeal, a parole board found Norsworthy eligible for parole pending the governor’s approval.
     Brown’s decision to release Norsworthy makes Tigar’s ruling moot and the state has asked to dismiss its appeal.
     Norsworthy’s lawsuit provided the groundwork for other California transgender inmates to petition for sex-reassignment surgery, including Quine.
     Quine said the settlement will help set precedent for other transgender inmates and that she is committed to becoming a better person.
     “After so many years of almost giving up on myself, I will finally be liberated from the prison within a prison I felt trapped in, and feel whole, both as a woman and as a human being,” she said in a statement.
     There are more than 400 inmates being treated for gender dysphoria with hormones, according to CDCR information. Quine will become just the second transgender inmate to be housed in a women’s facility in California, joining Sherri Masbruch who was transferred in 2009.
     While the settlement will make Quine the first inmate to receive the sex-reassignment surgery, the courts will still have to decide in the future if states are mandated to provide the surgery.

%d bloggers like this: