First trans prison inmate granted gender surgery

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Shiloh Quine has become one of the first prison inmates to granted a gender reassignment operation – that will be paid for by the local government.

The state of California has agreed to pay for the trans inmate’s gender reassignment surgery – however, it is still undecided whether or not an inmate having access to this type of surgery should be able to do so as a constitutional right.

The state admitted that Shiloh Quine – who has been in prison since 1980 – suffers “severe gender dysphoria that can be treated only by physically conforming her body to her psychological gender,” reports The LA Times.

The agreement to settle Quine’s case was announced late Friday, with a brief statement from the corrections department, saying that “every medical doctor and mental health clinician who has reviewed this case – including two independent mental health experts – determined that this surgery is medically necessary for Quine.”

Quine’s victory comes after another inmate – Michelle Norsworthy – won a court order for gender reassignment surgery in April.

In both women’s cases, prison officials originally denied the surgeries – 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.”

Quine was imprisoned for first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery 35 years ago.

During that time, reports show she has repeatedly attempted suicide. Her last attempt was in June 2014, when prison officials originally denied the surgery.

“I’m in severe pain,” she wrote in a prison appeal after a state board recommended moving her to a maximum security unit.

“I feel tortured and now being placed in future substantial risk of harm.”

Quine is housed at Mule Creek State Prison – one of nine male prisons in California which houses transgender women.

Transgender inmates often are kept apart from the general population in “sensitive needs yards” – often among child molesters, drug lords and others whose lives might be at risk.

Under Friday’s agreement, Quine will be moved to a women’s prison if she completes surgery.

Activists have welcomed the news – and are hoping this case will set a precedent for future trans inmates.

“This is clearly where the law is going and where the entire health industry is going,” said Ilona Turner, legal director at the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, which handled the cases of both Quine and Norsworthy.

“These exclusions in health management plans are illegal.”

In May, jailed whistleblower Chelsea Manning announced that she is drafting a bill that would prevent the government from clamping down on others.

Private Manning – who announced her transition to female in 2013 – is currently imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking details of classified documents via Wikileaks.

The whistleblower is currently appealing her 35-year prison sentence and suing for her right to transition behind bars. The US Military has continued to refer to the data analyst by her former gender and former name and until recently blocked gender treatment.