- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

BOSTON (AP) — A 57-year-old suburban Boston man underwent a sex-change operation, then wrote off the $25,000 in medical expenses on her taxes.

But the IRS disallowed the deduction — ruling the procedure was cosmetic, not a medical necessity — in a potentially precedent-setting dispute now before the U.S. Tax Court.

Rhiannon O'Donnabhain is suing the IRS in a case advocates hope will force the agency to treat sex-change operations the same as appendectomies and other deductible medical procedures. The case is set to go to trial July 24.

Miss O'Donnabhain said she could have paid back the approximately $5,000 she received in her tax refund, but decided to challenge the IRS because she thinks the ruling against her was rooted in politics and prejudice.

The U.S. Tax Court has never issued an opinion in a similar case, said Jennifer Levi, a lawyer with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston-based legal organization representing Miss O'Donnabhain.

The IRS has ruled against allowing the deduction in a 2005 case, when it ruled that the costs of a gender-reassignment surgery and related treatments were not deductible as medical expenses.