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Will California become the first state to pay for a prisoner’s sex reassignment surgery?

Will California become the first state to pay for a prisoner’s sex reassignment surgery?
Inmate Michelle-Lael NorsworthyPhoto: AP Photo/Steve Yeater,File
Inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy
Inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy AP Photo/Steve Yeater,File

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown is weighing whether to grant parole to a transgender inmate who is trying to force California to become the first state to pay for a prisoner’s sex reassignment surgery.

Brown will decide whether 51-year-old Michelle-Lael Norsworthy should be released 30 years after she fatally shot 26-year-old Franklin Gordon Liefer Jr. following an argument in a Fullerton bar in 1985.

A federal judge in April ordered the state to provide the surgery, which was scheduled for July 1. But the surgery is on hold until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can hear the state’s appeal Thursday.

Brown has until midnight Friday to decide about parole. If he grants parole, it’s not clear whether Norsworthy would be able to have the prison-funded surgery before she is released.

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