California corrections department to appeal judge’s order backing inmate’s sex change

Calif-Corrections

Calif-Corrections

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California‘s corrections department said Friday that it will appeal a federal judge’s order that it immediately provide a transgender inmate with sex-reassignment surgery.

The state’s court filing challenges last week’s decision by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco that the surgery is medically necessary for Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, 51.

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy

Tigar ruled April 2 that denying the surgery to the inmate is a violation of constitutional rights.

It is just the second time nationwide that a judge has directed a state prison system to provide such a surgery. The previous order in a Massachusetts case was overturned last year and is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Court’s order effectively takes inmate health care out of CDCR’s hands and subjects it to an inmate’s personal preferences,” the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said its filing.

It is asking for a stay while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers Tigar’s ruling, arguing that there is no immediate need to provide the surgery to someone who has been dealing with gender dysphoria for many years. The condition occurs when people’s gender at birth is contrary to the way they identify themselves.

Tigar already rejected those arguments when he issued a preliminary injunction after finding that Norsworthy’s “suffering constitutes irreparable injury, whether this is the first month she has suffered it or the hundredth.”

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Ilona Turner, legal director of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, California, that helped represent Norsworthy, said she is disappointed that the department is seeking “to delay the care that Michelle desperately needs” with an appeal that she said will waste taxpayer money on legal costs.

“The state provides essential medical care to all people being held in prison, and Michelle should not be an exception just because of who she is,” Turner said in a statement.

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