A transgender prisoner in California underwent gender-reassignment surgery paid for by the state this week, a first case of its kind in America.
Shiloh Quine was promised that the state would pay for the procedure in 2015 after a settlement was made which stated that the US must offer treatment.
Under its terms, the state agreed to allow inmates who are transgender or have gender dysphoria access to clothing, toiletries and other items consistent with their gender identities. For those like Shiloh whose doctors agree that surgery is medically appropriate, the state will pay for the procedure. The cost was not specified.
Kria Hayashi, the executive director for the Transgender Law Centre said that the surgery set precedent for others seekinging surgery.
“For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who we are – with devastating consequences for our community,” said Hayashi.
The guidelines set out under the settlement state that prisoners seeking gender reassignment surgery would require a medical and mental heath evaluation, and would also need to present their case to a panel of six doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Members of the panel would then vote on the case.
Following her release from the prison hospital, Quine ill be transferred to a female prison where she will carry out her sentence for murder, kidnapping and robbery which saw her imprisoned in 1981.
Prison officials originally denied the surgery – arguing that gender reassignment was not medically necessary.
However, the state’s decision was undermined, when its own medical expert concluded that Quine required the operation in June.
“Sex reassignment surgery is medically necessary to prevent Ms. Quine from suffering significant illness or disability, and to alleviate severe pain caused by her gender dysphoria,” wrote Richard Carroll, a clinical psychologist and director of the Sexual Disorders and Couple Therapy Program at Northwestern University in Chicago.
He said it would reduce her “depression, anxiety and risk of suicide attempts.”