A federal judge ruled that a criminal serving a life sentence cannot be denied a state-paid sex change, CBS News reports.
The decision, from U.S. District of Northern California Judge John Tigar, is the second of its kind ordered to a state prison. The other case, from Massachusetts, is before the Supreme Court.
The criminal’s name is Michelle-Lael Norsworthy. Norsworthy was born a male named Jeffrey Brian and has been imprisoned since 1987 for second-degree murder.
The judge accepted Norsworthy’s claim to suffering from “severe gender dysphoria,” or not identifying with the gender from birth. That’s why Tigar ruled that “the weight of the evidence demonstrates that [the] only adequate medical treatment for her gender dysphoria is [sex reassignment surgery].”
The Transgender Law Center in Oakland, which defended Norsworthy, is happy with the decision. “No one should be denied the medical care they need, [in] or out of prison,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the TLC.
He adds that Medi-Cal, the state’s health-care plan for low-income people, has covered the procedure for years and believes that the $100,000 price tag for the operation is “a gross exaggeration.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is considering an appeal as it believes that Norsworthy received the proper care for the past 15 years, including mental health and hormone therapy that gave the convict the voice of a female. State corrections officials argued that having surgery would have put Norsworthy’s life in jeopardy.