US: Trans woman prisoner serving 73 year sentence appeals to be given gender reassignment

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A trans woman in the US state of Virginia who has been served a 73-year prison sentence is expecting a decision from a judge on whether she will be allowed evaluation to be given gender reassignment surgery.

Speaking on Monday, District Court Judge James C Turk in Roanoke said he would rule promptly in the case of Ophelia De’Lonta,52 , who has appealed to be allowed the surgery.

De’Lonta has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and has attempted to castrate herself several times.

During the hearing on Monday, De’Lonta’s lawyers argued the necessity of the evaluation to have the surgery, because of the harm she poses to herself without it.

The lawsuit claims that denying her the surgery is in violation of her Eigth amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The lawsuit estimates that the surgery can be done at a cost to the state of $20,000 (£13,000).

According to the Roanoke Times, a lawyer for the prison had said the state contests the suggestion in the lawsuit that it had not provided medically necessary care. The paper reported that the state argued that it had offered counselling, hormone treatment, and to allow De’Lonta to dress according to her gender identity.

Turk reportedly did not indicate how he would rule on De’Lonta’s request to be examined by a specialist at her own expense.

The judge previously dismissed De’Lonta’s self-filed lawsuit back in 2011, after he concluded that the Virginia Department of Corrections was adequately treating her  for gender dysphoria.

A three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in January sent her case back to the lower court, concluding that the claim should be heard.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in other US states, and some lawmakers have attempted to ban the use of taxpayer money for the operations.