Society

California Funds Controversial Surgery For Inmate

| by Sean Kelly

A convicted killer serving a life sentence in a California prison made history by becoming the first inmate in the country to receive state-funded sex reassignment surgery.

In August 2015, state officials agreed to pay for sex reassignment surgery for Shiloh Heavenly Quine. Quine was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom without the possibility of parole after she kidnapped and shot 33-year-old Shahid Ali Baig in 1980. Quine stole $80 from Baig and his car while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

With Quine's case, California became the first state to allow transgender inmates to apply for state-funded reassignment surgery. 

"For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who we are," Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said. The center represented Quine in the case.

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The victory, Hayashi said, was significant "for all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care" they need.

In a similar incident involving transgender inmates, a transgender woman was found dead in her cell at a male prison in England.

Jenny Swift was discovered dead in her cell on Dec. 30 after requesting hormones from prison staff and never receiving them. The cause of death was ruled a suicide.

"She kept asking for the hormones and they said she would get them but she never did. I phoned up and explained that she needed them too," an anonymous friend said, The Guardian reported. "Jenny said that not having them was making her legs shake, making her feel sad and ill -- she said it was like coming off drugs. It made her miserable."

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Prison staff reportedly referred to Swift as "mister" and forced her to wear male clothes, prompting her to protest by walking around the jail naked.

"She had been trying her best to keep her feminine side, but she mentioned in prison that she could feel the testosterone in her body and she felt sick," the friend said. "It was making her cringe inside. If she had her hormones and the correct tablets she would still be here. I know that for certain."

Sources: CBS News, The Guardian / Photo credit:  

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