News Outlets Celebrate Transgender Prisoner Surgery Legislation

The Daily Beast and Cosmopolitan are pleased that taxpayers in two states are now on the hook for the cost of transgender prisoners’ sex reassignment surgery.

“Transgender Americans have seen slow but steady progress in health insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery. Unless they’re in prison,” The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen stated.

Back in April, a San Francisco federal judge ruled that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) must provide sex change surgery for Michelle Lael-Norsworthy, 51, who received a life sentence with possible parole for second-degree murder in 1987.

The court’s decision made California the first state to cover “medically necessary SRS for prisoners,” Allen said.

The case serves as a “critical legal precedent” for transgender inmates, remarked Norsworthy’s lawyer Flor Bermudez, Detention Project Director at the Transgender Law Center (TLC).

“[The case] is no guarantee of surgery for every trans inmate who needs it, but it’s an important foothold in that fight,” Allen said.

The author also lamented that Norsworthy served his entire term in a men’s rather than women’s prison and never received the “necessary” surgery from the CDCR.

“But the outrage [over sex change surgery for inmates] rests on the assumption that SRS is an elective procedure, not one that can be medically necessary,” Allen remarked. “That’s an assumption that goes against current medical consensus.”

However, prominent psychiatrists disagree with Allen, and the benefits of the transgender lifestyle are tenuous at best.

Former Psychiatrist in Chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital Dr. Paul McHugh flatly stated that sex change is impossible.

“The idea that one’s sex is a feeling, not a fact, has permeated our culture and is leaving casualties in its wake. Gender dysphoria should be treated with psychotherapy, not surgery,” he said. “At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits.”

Cosmopolitan’s Lane Moore praised the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s new rule that allows transgender prisoners to receive hormone therapy even if they weren’t receiving it before.

“Texas just did an awesome thing for transgender inmates,” Moore said.

The magazine also labelled 2016 the “most dangerous year for transgender Americans yet.”

The article, also written by Moore, highlighted 44 proposed bills in 16 states which she said “target” transgender people. She mentioned that this number is over twice as many as the 21 bills denying rights to transgenders introduced in 2015.

“Hopefully the HRC's (Human Rights Campaign) hard work will allow them to prevail again this year, though it would be nice to live in a world where they wouldn't have to fight so hard,” Moore said.

While people with gender dysphoria certainly need and deserve medical attention no matter whether they are in prison, many rush to conclude that hormone therapy and sex change surgery are the most successful treatment options. In the face of serious controversy over whether these treatments even work taxpayers should not be expected to pick up the tab for them.

Tell the Truth 2016

Mairead McArdle
Mairead McArdle
Mairead McArdle is a writer for MRC Culture.