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Transgender Inmate Sues for Sex Change

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 08, 2011 12:42 PM

After yet another failed self-castration, Virginia prisoner Ophelia De'lonta is suing the state in federal court, seeking a ruling that commands the state to pay for inmate sex change operations.

Though she's already receiving hormone replacement therapy, she believes that a sex change operation is the final step in treating her gender identity disorder.

While this may be true, should states have to pay for inmate sex change operations?

Ophelia De'lonta has been in prison since the age of 18, and is serving a 70 year sentence for robbery, drugs and firearm possession. After an early history of self-castration attempts, she robbed a bank in order to pay for an operation, reports KTLA-TV.

Like many transgender inmates across the country, the Daily News reports that she has won a court order for the provision of hormone replacement therapy. Prison officials must also refer to her as a woman.

Even so, she continues to attempt self-surgery, and knowing that it can kill her, won't stop until she is physically a woman, reports the paper.

Constitutionally, prisoners are only entitled to necessary and adequate medical care. Courts that have considered inmate sex change operations have generally found that they are not necessary under current jurisprudence, though hormone replacement therapy is.

This is likely because there is a commonly held belief that sex change operations are a luxury that even the free can't afford.

This indicates that the case of Ophelia De'lonta and inmate sex change operations won't be a happy one for the prisoner.

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