LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An inmate convicted in Los Angeles County in 1980 of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery has won the right to have the state pay for a sex reassignment operation, making California the first state in the nation to pay for such a procedure.
Shiloh Quine, who entered the California prison system in 1980 as Rodney, suffers severe gender dysphoria that can be treated only by physically conforming her body to her psychological gender, according to the medical professionals who have reviewed her case.
In announcing the agreement to settle Quine's federal lawsuit, the Corrections Department said that "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.
California has nearly 400 transgender inmates receiving hormonal treatment, according to prison medical data. Quine's lawyers said their research shows the cost of the operation she seeks ranges from $15,000 to $25,000.
Quine, who turned 56, on Friday, has repeatedly attempted suicide while incarcerated. In April 2014, a prison psychologist assessing Quine wrote that he believed sex reassignment was "reasonable and necessary to alleviate severe pain," The Los Angeles Times reported. When prison officials again denied the surgery, Quine in June 2014 tried once more to kill herself.
Quine's victory was made possible by another inmate, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, who sued to force the state to provide sex reassignment surgery. Norsworthy, who at 21 was convicted of fatally shooting Franklin Gordon Liefer Jr. at a Fullerton bar in November 1985, entered the prison system as Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy.
Norsworthy was scheduled for the sex change operation in July after a federal judge ordered the state to provide the surgery, but after several appeals and delays, Gov. Jerry Brown granted her parole Friday, deciding she is no longer a danger to the public.
The decision makes it less likely that 51-year-old Norsworthy will be able to have the surgery funded by the prison before she is released.
The state, however, will not be able to look to parole to avoid paying for Quine's surgery, as she is serving a life sentence.
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