Transgender CA Inmate Finds Circuit Receptive

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A transgender California woman seeking sex-reassignment surgery seemed to curry favor from the Ninth Circuit on Monday.
     Mia Rosati, though state records still call her Philip, filed her 60-page handwritten complaint from the San Diego’s R.J. Donovan State Prison where she is serving 80 years to life for murder.
     A federal judge dismissed Rosati’s complaint in 2013, but her attorney, Peter Renn, told a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit on Monday that his client’s gender dysphoria is so severe that she castrated herself in prison after she was denied access to surgery.
     Rosati has received hormone treatment for about a decade and has expressed intentions of performing even more dangerous surgery on herself in the future, the attorney warned.
     Judge Barry Silverman asked Renn whether a doctor had provided an opinion stating that the surgery was medically necessary for Rosati.
     Renn said Rosati has been denied access to such professional care in prison, but that a physician’s assistant has chosen not to document Rosati as a “sufficiently severe” case, even after the self-castration that Renn said “jeopardized her life.”
     There is plenty of support for Rosati’s claim that prison has a de facto policy of denying sex-reassignment surgery to inmates, Renn said, calling the care Rosati gets “disastrously inadequate.”
     “There’s no question of the horrors she faces, because they’ve already materialized,” he said.
     Deputy state attorney general Neah Huynh said the case “boils down to a difference of medical opinion.”
     “Her medical records show that her status is stable and that she’s exhibiting symptom control,” Huynh said of Rosati.
     Judge Andrew Hurwitz asked Huynh whether there was any medical opinion declaring that the surgery was not medically necessary for Rosati, and Huynh admitted that there was none.
     “If you don’t have a medical opinion now, I don’t understand why the case shouldn’t be sent back,” said Judge Ronald Gould, who sat on the appellate panel via video feed.
     Under mild fire from the panel, Huynh eventually caved and said it is possible that Rosati should be given the opportunity to amend her complaint rather than have it dismissed again.
     “Well, that’s an interesting development,” Hurwitz said.
     Hurwitz applied the brakes as Renn, a Lambda Legal attorney in Los Angeles, pushed for the panel to completely reverse the trial court’s judgment.
     “I know you want a home run,” the judge said. “I’m trying to see if you’ll take a single.”
     California scheduled its first sex-reassignment surgery for an inmate last month upon a federal judge’s order, but the 9th Circuit entered a stay in Michelle Norsworthy’s case pending a hearing set for Aug. 10.

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