California grants tax dollars for inmate transgender surgery
SACRAMENTO, CA, August 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Rodney James Quine was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery. He is serving a life sentence for the murder in the California prison system. He sued the federal government to pay for transgender surgery, and the state of California has agreed to use tax dollars to do so.
After Quine's surgery, he will be moved to a women's prison.
This gives California another first: the first state to pay for a prison inmate's gender "reassignment" operation, which costs up to $25,000.
The use of tax dollars for transgender surgery is not the most significant aspect of the case. In the lawsuit settlement, the state of California conceded that Rodney Quine, who now insists on being called "Shiloh," suffers severe gender dysphoria that can be treated only by physically conforming his body to his "psychological gender."
In other words, the government has officially stated that if a man thinks he is a woman, then he is, and only a sex change operation can "cure" those who are gender-confused.
State lawyers had argued that sex "reassignment" surgery is not medically necessary for anyone, but is elective surgery, and as such, tax dollars need not fund it. But in June, the state's own expert testified that Quine "required" the operation.
After the settlement, the California corrections department issued a statement that "every medical doctor and mental health clinician who has reviewed this case ... determined that this surgery is medically necessary for Quine."
"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 psychologist Richard Carroll of Northwestern University.
Carroll, who directs the Sexual Disorders and Couple Therapy Program at Northwestern, said that surgery would reduce Quine's "depression, anxiety and risk of suicide attempts." Mr. Quine is incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison, one of nine male institutions to which California sends transsexual men. He has repeatedly attempted suicide.
Kent Scheidegger of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said that the settlement gives "ammunition to the next guy, to say you did this for him, why not me?" Scheidegger explained that now that the state has agreed to pay for transgender surgery and even called it medically necessary, similar requests will not only increase, but will eventually force a legal fight for the "right" to taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery for any criminal.
California has about 400 transgender inmates receiving sex change drugs via the government dole.
Quine's lawyers said they believe the case will set a precedent for the nation. "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.
Quine's case was personally helped by a San Francisco federal judge, Jon Tigar, an Obama appointee. Tigar assigned himself to Quine's lawsuit and appointed a team of San Francisco lawyers and the Transgender Law Center to represent him. Tigar mused how denying a prisoner's sex change operation may constitute "deliberate indifference" to a serious medical need and, if so, would be unconstitutionally "cruel and unusual punishment."
When Quine is moved to a women's penitentiary, he will be the second male prisoner among the female inmate population. Richard Masbruch, who brutally raped a woman in Fresno in 1991, was placed in a women's prison after he castrated himself.
Masbruch's location is a state secret. The California corrections department has repeatedly moved Masbruch, who insists on calling himself "Sherri," because of numerous threats and assaults.
State prisons director Kelly Harrington testified in May that it's not just the sex change surgery that makes such cases expensive. He said many costly arrangements have to be made, including, "arranging for an inmate's sex reassignment surgery, providing the necessary security during hospitalization, and ensuring that appropriate placement is available for both postoperative recovery and placement."
Harrington concluded that in his experience, such unnecessary and expensive arrangements "have no precedent in California's prison system, or in any other U.S. correctional environment that I'm aware of."
In a similar case earlier this year, Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy, who is incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison for fatally shooting Franklin Gordon Liefer after an argument in a bar in 1985, won a judge's order to reshape his genitals. However, the state of California avoided paying for Norsworthy's sex change by granting him parole instead.
Governor Jerry Brown decided that Norsworthy is no longer dangerous, even though he shot Liefer three times over an argument. Liefer took six weeks to die from Norsworthy's gunshots.
A Massachusetts transsexual, convicted murderer Robert Kosilek, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, won a court decision that ruled that Kosilek, who had repeatedly tried to kill and to castrate himself, has a constitutional right to sex reassignment surgery as a medical necessity.
But the surgery never occurred because of concerns over prison security. Massachusetts had contended that a transgendered Kosilek would be unsafe to house anywhere: a target for assault in a male prison, a source of mental distress for female inmates who had been victims of domestic abuse.
Gay activists applaud California's settlement to pay for Quine's sex change. Valerie Jenness, dean of the School of Social Ecology at the University of California Irvine, commented that the Quine case marks a "gigantic" progression in the rights of transgender criminals.
In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added "gender-conforming" procedures to tax-funded Medicare.
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