Trans inmate may not get gender reassignment after parole hearing

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A sequence of events means a transgender prison inmate may not get gender reassignment surgery which she was granted by a court, as she has been recommended for parole.

Michelle Norsworthy’s surgery had been set for 1 June, when she would have become the first trans prison to have surgery in the United States as she was the first inmate in California to be granted surgery by a court. 

The judge found that while she had been allowed hormone treatment, and had been recommended for surgery by her psychologist, the prison “chose to ignore the clear recommendations of her mental health provider” and “instead of following his recommendations, they removed her from his care.”

After a state panel on Thursday recommended that Norsworthy be paroled, a federal appeals court put the ruling that she should be given the surgery on hold.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation previously had a request for a delay denied.


If Norsworthy, who was jailed in 1990, is paroled, she could still get the surgery under Medi-Cal, which covers gender reassignment surgery.

In November last year, a prison in New York opened a wing specifically for trans prisoners.

Earlier this month, musicians Michael Stipe and Sir Elton John spoke out about “horrific” treatment of trans women prisoners.