California Prisoner to Undergo Sex Change Surgery

kim kardashian


Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, born Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy, has been granted a sex change surgery. A California judge has decided that this is the “only adequate” treatment. Norsworthy, 51, has been living as a female since the 1990’s while in state prison. Norsworthy has received counseling and hormone treatments during her time in prison, where she was diagnosed with severe gender dysphoria. This is a condition where a person identifies oneself as the opposite gender. Originally, Norsworthy was denied the surgery by the department, but U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar granted a preliminary injunction and would allow Norsworthy to have the surgery as soon as possible.

Tigar said in his ruling that “The weight of the evidence demonstrates that for Norsworthy, the only adequate medical treatment for her gender dysphoria is SRS, that the decision not to address her persistent symptoms was medically unacceptable under the circumstances.” In other words, he is saying that Norsworthy needs the surgery for her to complete her treatments. He goes on to say that if the department denies her this surgery, it would be a violation of her constitutional rights. This decision would be a first in the state of California. The only other state that made this ruling was in Massachusetts in 2012.

However, the sex reassignment surgery may lead to some complications for Norsworthy’s incarceration. As of right now, Norsworthy is in an all-men’s prison, Mule Creek State Prison, where she is serving time for a murder charge back in 1987. If Norsworthy were to stay at the men’s prison she may be a victim of sexual assault, so even moving her to any men’s prison would not be wise. However, if Norsworthy were to be moved to an all women’s prison, that wouldn’t be an ideal solution either. Norsworthy has a history of domestic violence, so that would put her and the other inmates at risk. The surgery would also cost about $100,000, according to Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for California Corrections Health Care Services. 

Hopefully the state finds a solution for Norsworthy to carry out her sentence. This decision is a huge step for transgendered people. It shows that transgendered people need the medical treatment that they deserve. This also  helps prove that every inmate deserves the medical treatment they need.

Photo via flickr/ miss_millions


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