The Associated Press is just like any other "prestige media" outlet in utterly failing the accuracy test when it comes to "transgender" stories. A man is a woman as long as he says he's a she. Take this stark prison story from AP's Dena Potter on Tuesday:
DILLWYN, VA. -- Crouched in her cell, Ophelia De'lonta hoped three green disposable razors from the prison commissary would give her what the Virginia Department of Corrections will not — a sex change. It had been several years since she had felt the urges, but she had been fighting them for weeks. But like numerous other times, she failed to get rid of what she calls "that thing" between her legs, the last evidence she was born a male.
Months after the October castration attempt, De'lonta filed a federal lawsuit Friday claiming the state has failed its duty to provide adequate medical care because it won't give her the operation. She says the surgery is needed to treat her gender identity disorder, a mental illness in which people believe they were born the wrong gender.
If she wins, De'lonta would be the nation's first inmate to receive a state-funded sex change operation. Similar lawsuits have failed in a handful of other states, and lawmakers in some states are trying to ban the use of taxpayer money for the operations.
If she loses, she says she will continue to try self-surgery — acknowledging another attempt could kill her.
"That's a possibility," the 50-year-old said during a recent prison interview, pausing then smiling contently. "But at the end I would have peace."
Some physical changes have already taken place. Hormones won under a 2004 court order have caused her to develop noticeable breasts. Her eyebrows are perfectly plucked, and makeup accentuates her smooth cocoa complexion.
"Ophelia's" birth name is Michael Stokes. Potter stuck quite closely to the GLAAD script on the T in LGBT. It was mostly flowers and sympathy and inaccurate pronouns -- which is apparently the kind of language you want to use unless you want "Ophelia" to snap. The "insensitive" portion of the AP story came with the Republican (common-sense) rebuttal:
Republican Virginia Del. Todd Gilbert says he would seek state legislation if De'lonta's lawsuit is successful.
"The notion that taxpayers are going to fund a sex change is just ridiculous," says Gilbert.
Harold Clarke, who became Virginia's corrections director last year, says it would be a security risk to allow the surgeries because Virginia's inmates are housed according to their gender at birth, not anatomy. While De'lonta sleeps and showers alone, she is not segregated from male inmates. Her lawsuit also asks that she be moved to a women's prison.
Federal courts have said mental health professionals — not prison officials — should dictate treatment.
But Rudolph Alexander, an Ohio State University professor who has studied the treatment of inmates with gender identity disorder, believes mental health providers are reluctant to say the surgery is medically necessary because they fear for their jobs. Almost always, the deciding physician is a state employee or has a contract with it.
Advocates argue that treating repeated self-mutilations costs more than the surgeries. De'lonta, for example, has needed expensive airlifts three times for self-inflicted wounds.
The hormones and other treatments had kept her urges in check for years. She snapped Oct. 8 when an officer used a male pronoun toward her, despite a court order that prison workers refer to her as a woman.
"I screamed `She, damnit!' becoming so overwhelmed it was hard to breathe," De'lonta said.
Looking down, she felt repulsed and helpless. She cried herself to sleep, then hours later she prepared for her surgery attempt by covering her cell door's window with paper and putting towels around the commode.
Using knowledge gained from mail-order anatomy books, De'lonta cut on and off for three hours before she passed out. It took 21 stitches to repair the damage.
The story concluded with the obvious note that somehow all this gender confusion cannot be corrected. It can only be subsidized:
Years ago she legally changed her name. Ophelia was chosen for the Shakespearean woman who died for love; De'lonta because it was the last name of a slain friend; middle name Azriel for the angel who helps one cross over.
De'lonta first tried to cut herself when she was 12. By 17, she was robbing banks with the hopes of getting enough money to have a sex change operation. By 18, she was in prison, sentenced to more than 70 years for robbery, drugs, weapons and other charges.
She is eligible for parole this year, but a wide range of prison infractions mean it's unlikely she'll be released any time soon. Asked why she can't just wait until she's free to get the surgery, De'lonta says she would if she could.
"This is not something that I have any control over," she says. "This is just how I was born."