- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Phil Robertson suspended ‘indefinitely’ for gay comments
- John Podesta eats crow: ‘I apologize to Speaker Boehner’
- U.S., China race to finish line on ‘invisibility cloak’
- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
Transgender-inmate ruling is movement’s latest win
Question of the Day
Years ago, in a darkened parking lot in the middle of the night, Kathy Padilla would meet with fellow transgender people who sought support from one another in a society that treated them like outcasts.
How things have changed since then for transgender men and women in America, who have made great strides in recent years toward reaching their ultimate goal: to be treated like ordinary people. On Tuesday, they won another victory when a Massachusetts judge became the first to order prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a murder convict, saying it was the only way to treat her gender-identity disorder.
The ruling marked the latest milestone in the increasing visibility of a class of people once roundly derided as freaks or used as a punch line.
“Now there are transgender delegates at the Democratic National Convention,” said Padilla, a 55-year-old transgender woman from Philadelphia who has been an advocate since 1984. “And a number of transgender people have been invited to the White House.”
In recent years, more than a dozen states have revised anti-discrimination laws to include transgender people, giving them hate-crime protection and providing rights as basic as restroom access. Transgender officials have helped raise the movement’s profile by winning elective office in city halls, landing coveted appointments in the White House and, yes, sending delegates to political conventions.
The Massachusetts court ruling, though, shines a light on what many advocates view as the worst form of discrimination still faced by transgender people: lack of access to medical care.
“Transgender people are still denied health care access all the time,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “There’s insufficient training, insufficient cultural competency, and insufficient humanity sometimes.”
Transitioning from one sex to another can involve a variety of treatments, including hormone therapy, but the most expensive one is a sex-change operation, which can cost up to $20,000. Even though the American Medical Association and other medical experts recommend coverage of services for transgender people, a small but growing number of companies that actually provide it _ including Apple, Accenture and American Express _ are still the exception.
Federal health care that covers treatment for gender-identity disorders is virtually nonexistent, with no services for federal employees, veterans or Medicare recipients.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who as a state senator filed unsuccessful legislation in the late 2000s to ban the use of tax money to pay for the surgery for prison inmates, said surgery for the inmate at the center of Tuesday’s ruling would be “an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
“We have many big challenges facing us as a nation, but nowhere among those issues would I include providing sex change surgery to convicted murderers,” he said in a written statement. “I look forward to common sense prevailing and the ruling being overturned.”
The nation as a whole has not yet embraced the idea that a gender reassignment surgery is a medically necessary procedure that could have dramatic health benefits, advocates say.
“If somebody doesn’t receive treatment, it can lead to very serious incidents of self-harm,” said Jennifer Levi, a professor of law at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. “One of the things that the judge recognized is that there’s a lot of public misunderstanding about the experience of transsexualism. And there’s a lot of bias and prejudice.”
In the Massachusetts case, the judge noted that inmate Michelle Kosilek’s gender-identity disorder has caused her such anguish that she has tried to castrate herself and twice tried to commit suicide. Kosilek was named Robert when married to Cheryl Kosilek and convicted of murdering her in 1990.
While courts around the country have found that prisons must evaluate transgender inmates to determine their health care needs, most have ordered hormone treatments and psychotherapy. Wolf is the first judge to order sex-reassignment surgery as a remedy to gender-identity disorder.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Fourth Amendment says Obama is not at liberty to collect metadata
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Half of America strips religion from Christmas
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay comments
- Obama's own panel rips NSA spying on phone calls of Americans
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- President gets budget win -- but only by staying out of negotiations
- 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson: Gays 'wont inherit the kingdom of God'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Lists of top ten movies, songs, funny moments, fashion statements, automobiles, children's names, stupid celebrity moments, first dates, last dates, weddings, and much, much more.
Right-brain investing in a left-brain world. You can do it. I can help.
News and views on the Civil War.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow