Constitutional Law

California agrees to pay for inmate's sex-reassignment surgery

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In what is being billed as a national first, the state of California has agreed to pay for gender-reassignment surgery for an inmate serving a life prison term.

The state’s settlement with Shiloh Quine, however, sidesteps the question of whether California is constitutionally required to pay for such surgery, reports the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.).

The state had originally argued that surgery for Quine was not medically necessary to treat her diagnosed gender dysphoria. However, even its own expert disagreed, the newspaper reports.

“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,” wrote clinical psychologist Richard Carroll, who is director of the Sexual Disorders and Couple Therapy Program at Northwestern University. He said the surgery would reduce Quine’s “depression, anxiety and risk of suicide attempts.”

Quine entered the system as Rodney Quine and will turn 56 on Friday. She was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in Los Angeles County in 1980.

As part of the settlement announced Friday of her federal civil rights lawsuit, she will be moved to a women’s prison if she completes the surgery. She began hormone therapy prescribed by prison doctors in 2009.

See also: “En banc 1st Circuit ruling nixes state-funded sex-change surgery for prison inmate” “After federal judge orders sex-change surgery, board OKs parole for inmate”

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