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Lawyers: Denying Sex Change Operation To Inmate Violates Constitution

A federal appeals court delayed a sex change surgery to a California inmate Thursday, but the inmate’s lawyers are arguing that not providing the surgery would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Just hours after a prison board recommended Michelle Lael-Norsworthy, 51, be released on parole, a federal judge ruled that the prison-funded surgery will be delayed while the appeals process continues, The Associated Press reports.

The appeals process on the surgery could last past her pending release date, but Norsworthy’s lawyers say taxpayers would still be on the hook to finance it through Medi-Cal, the state’s healthcare welfare program that provides “gender affirming” surgery.

Norsworthy has been living as a woman since the 1990s and was scheduled for the surgery July 1. The inmate has been taking hormone therapy drugs which have caused liver damage and other health complications.

The state has argued the drugs and counseling make the surgery unnecessary. They’ve also raised safety concerns about which gender housing they would put Norsworthy in. The state has argued that they’ve had to move Norsworthy several times because of threats and assaults from other inmates.

federal judge had previously ruled in April that the state provide the surgery as quickly as possible.

Norsworthy has spent 28 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction.

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