For the first time in the United States, a sex-reassignment surgery has been approved and financed for a California prisoner, reports The New York Times.
Shiloh Quine was convicted in 1980 of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Years later, represented by the Transgender Law Center, Quine filed a civil rights lawsuit against the California prison system. Following a lengthy court battle, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authorized Quine’s surgery and a subsequent transfer to a women’s prison facility, reports the Times.
“For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who they are — with devastating consequences to our community,” Kris Hayashi, executive director for the Northern California-based Transgender Law Center, said in a statement .
“With this surgery, the state is fulfilling one part of a landmark settlement that was a victory not only for Shiloh and transgender people in prison, but for all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care we need.”
Quine’s lawyers said the surgery was performed in a Bay Area hospital and that she was transferred to a women’s prison upon her recovery.
However, not everyone is in agreement with the surgery, especially the daughter of Quine’s victim, who disagrees with public funds financing the surgery of a convicted felon.
“My dad begged for his life,” said Farida Baig, who tried unsuccessfully to block Quine’s surgery through the courts. “It just made me dizzy and sick. I’m helping pay for his surgery; I live in California. It’s kind of like a slap in the face.”
Quine’s surgery has set a precedent for other transgender inmates to apply for the state-financed, specialized surgery, according to a Jan. 9 report in The Washington Post.
Liz Gransee, speaking on behalf of California Correctional Health Care Services, said 64 prisoners have requested gender-reassignment surgery. Requests have been granted for two male-to-female and female-to-male surgeries. Thirteen requests are still awaiting a decision; 5l have been denied.
Marci Bowers, a California transgender physician, and Fred Ettner, an Illinois physician, in 2015 told Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post that male-to-female surgery costs between $40,000 and $50,000. Female-to-male surgery costs around $75,000.
Despite Quine’s lawsuit, Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Post she expects state governments will resist paying for gender-reassignment surgeries in the future.