Idaho’s transphobic governor spent half a million in public funds fighting a trans inmate’s surgery. The Supreme Court just told him to drop it

Supreme Court tells Idaho to drop fight against trans inmate's surgery

The US Supreme Court has denied Idaho governor Brad Little’s attempt to appeal a ruling that permitted a trans inmate to get gender-affirming surgery.

Even though Adree Edmo had her surgery in July – she’s just the second person to have gender-affirming surgery while in prison – Little is still spending taxpayer money fighting the ruling that allowed this to happen.

He had asked the Supreme Court for a review of the Ninth Circuit’s 2019 ruling, even though it had been previously upheld.

On Tuesday (October 13), the Supreme Court denied his request.

Edmo, the 32-year-old trans woman at the centre of the case, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars in 2011 for sexual abuse of a minor after performing a sex act on a male 15-year-old. She was 22 at the time.

She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by prison doctors in 2012 but was denied access to gender-affirmation surgery, leading her to attempt self-castration while in prison on two occasions.

She sued for the right to undergo surgery in 2017, and was ultimately victorious in federal district and appellate courts.

“It is no leap to conclude that Edmo’s severe, ongoing psychological distress and the high risk of self-castration and suicide she faces absent surgery constitute irreparable harm,” the panel of the Ninth Circuit wrote last year.

After surgery, she was transferred to a woman’s prison in Pocatello. It’s the first time a transgender inmate has moved into a women’s prison on order of a court.

But Brad Little is still fighting the ruling that allowed this to happen, saying in a statement that the “taxpayers of Idaho should not have to pay for a procedure that is not medically necessary”.

“From the start, this appeal was about defending taxpayers and I will continue to do so,” Little said.

Edmo’s surgery cost $75,000, which was covered by the Idaho Department of Correction’s plan under Corizon Health, a Tennessee-based prison health contractor.

The ongoing litigation, driven by Little, has so far cost $456,738 in legal fees.