California has agreed to pay for a transgender inmate’s sex reassignment surgery after mental health experts agreed that the sex change was the only viable option for the person’s health.
Shiloh Quine, who has been an inmate in the California prison system since 1980, entered the system as Rodney. According to mental health professionals, Quine suffers from severe gender dysphoria that can only be fixed by changing her body to match her psychological gender, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Originally, the state fought against having to pay for the sex change operation, saying it was not medically vital to the patient. However, the state’s own expert agreed with the doctors who believed the change was necessary for Quine’s mental and physical health.
“Sex reassignment surgery is medically necessary to prevent Ms. Quine from suffering significant illness or disability, and to alleviate severe pain caused by her gender dysphoria,” Richard Carroll, a psychologist and director of the Sexual Disorders and Couple Therapy Program at Northwestern University in Chicago, said about the situation.
Some critics argued that the procedure could hold off until Quine was able to leave prison. She was sentenced to life without parole for first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery.
Currently, an estimated 400 transgender inmates receive hormone treatments paid for by taxpayers. Quine’s lawyers believe their client’s surgery will cost the state $15,000 to $25,000.
According to legal documents, Quine has repeatedly tried to kill herself, including an attempt after initial surgery was declined in June 2014. Quine has filed requests and legal challenges to the state to force correctional officers to take “sensitivity training” classes to better accommodate Quine’s psychological needs, specifically with pronouns “he” and “she.”
Quine’s case follows one of Michelle Lael-Norsworthy, another transgender inmate who was asking the state to pay for sex reassignment surgery. Norsworthy ultimately won her case, as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown decided to parole her. She originally entered the system as Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy after being convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 17 years to life behind bars, Reuters reported.