Virginia inmate Ophelia De’Lonta may soon see her wish of having a sex change come true.
De’Lonta was born Michael A. Stokes. She is serving a 73 year prison sentence for bank robbery.
She is also diagnosed with gender identity disorder. De’Lonta currently takes hormone treatment, receives psychological counseling, and dresses a woman in a men’s prison. She was hospitalized in 2010 after a self-castration attempt.
In 2011, she filed a motion against the state of Virginia saying that their refusal to grant her a sex change was cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
At the time, Judge James C. Turk rejected De’Lonta’s motion, and said the state was doing enough to accommodate her gender identity disorder.
But De’Lonta appealed Turk’s decision, and the Virginia Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that De’Lonta is entitled to be evaluated by a gender identity specialist of her choice. The evaluation will determine whether a $20,000 sex change – which would be paid for by the state – is a medically necessary accommodation for her disorder.
De’Lonta’s specialist will become her expert witness for future phases of her legal case.