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Trans prisoner must be provided with gender-confirmation surgery, court rules

Vic Parsons August 26, 2019

A candlelight vigil in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty)

A woman in Idaho could be the first transgender inmate to receive gender-confirmation surgery through a court order.

A panel of judges ruled on August 23 that Adree Edmo’s gender-confirmation surgery should be provided by Idaho and Corizon, the state’s prison healthcare provider.

The surgery is estimated to cost between $20,000 and $30,000.

Edmo is serving 10 years for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy when she was 22 and is scheduled for release in 2021. She is not eligible for parole.

The 9th circuit court of appeals ruling agreed with a December 2018 ruling from US District Judge B Lynn Winmill that was in Edmo’s favour and ordered the state to provde her with surgery.

The 9th circuit court of appeals judges wrote that Windmill’s findings were “logical and well-supported” and that “responsible prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Edmo’s gender dysphoria, in violation of the Eighth Amendment”, according to NPR.

Idaho has 90 days to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. In a statement, Idaho governor Brad Little said, “We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.”

“The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals,” he said.

But the ruling consistently rejected the medical opinions of the prison’s healthcare providers.

“It is enough that [her doctor] knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to Edmo’s health by rejecting her request for [gender confirmation surgery] and then never re-evaluating his decision despite ongoing harm to Edmo,” the judges wrote.

“Prison authorities have not provided that treatment despite full knowledge of Edmo’s ongoing and extreme suffering and medical needs,” the judges wrote.

Edmo’s lawyer, Lori Rifkin, said news that Idaho would appeal was “reprehensible”.

“She suffers every single day while they have denied this treatment to her for years and there can be no reason justifying Idaho’s continued refusal to provide her care except bias,” Rifkin said.

Edmo has twice attempted self-castration while in prison.

The ruling doesn’t mean that all trans inmates in Idaho would be eligible for state-funded gender-confirmation surgery, but it would set a standard for providing the surgery to certain inmates with severe gender dysphoria like Edmo.

More: gender confirmation surgery, IDAHO

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