US: Judges hear gender reassignment appeal from incarcerated trans woman

Joseph McCormick October 24, 2012
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Attorneys representing a trans woman prisoner made an appeal today to a court in Richmond, Virginia, in an attempt to win her gender reassignment surgery.

Ophelia De’Lonta’s attorneys filed an appeal with a three-judge panel at the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, reported SFGate.

The case was thrown out last year by a judge who contended that Ms De’Lonta was being treated adequately for her condition.

Ms De’Lonta is incarcerated in an all male prison, had received psychotherapy and hormone treatment since 2004, is addressed by prison officers as a woman, and is allowed to wear female clothes.

She had, however, attempted to self-castrate several times resulting in hospitalisation. She said her gender dysphoria was so severe that surgery was the only option and if she couldn’t get it through the court, she would resort to attempting to conduct the surgery on herself.

Her attorneys said “she is a female cruelly trapped in a man’s body”, and that she had known since childhood that she had gender dysphoria.

Bernadette Armand said that “the treatment [Ms De’Lonta has received] has not been constitutionally adequate,” and went on to say that refusal to provide gender reassignment as a treatment for her gender dysphoria meant they were violating her Eighth Amendment rights.

She said that a she should be medically assessed, rather than having her fate decided by a judge or prison official, adding:

“The record reveals that Ms De’Lonta’s distaste for her own body is so severe that while in prison, she has mutilated her genitalia more than 20 times in attempts at self-castration,”

Victor M Glasberg, another of Ms De’Lonta’s attorneys, wrote in his appeal to the 4th Circuit:

“She engaged in this behavior not because she delights in hurting herself, but because her repulsion is so overwhelming that is uncontrollable.”

E. Duncan Getchell Jr, State Solicitor General said that the original ruling, that she was being adequately treated, should stand.

Ophelia De’Lonta was imprisoned in 1983, serving a 73 year sentence for bank robbery, and other charges.

Last month in Massachusetts, Judge Mark Wolf, ruled that trans woman, Michelle Kosilek, be granted gender reassignment surgery, in a legal first. He also said that she should have her legal fees paid by the state. 

Ms De’Lonta’s decision is expected to take several weeks.

More: Americas, gender confirmation surgery, gender reassignment surgery, Ophelia De'lonta, prisoner, Richmond, US, Virginia

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