- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Virginia appellate court ruled last week that a prison trampled on an inmate’s constitutional rights by refusing to pay for the felon’s sexual-reassignment surgery — a procedure costing about $20,000.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided that denying to pay for gender reassignment surgery for Michael Stokes, a transgender bank robber serving a 73-year sentence, violates the constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment, according to the ruling.

The decision, titled De’Lonta v. Johnson, gave the following analogy:

“[I]magine that prison officials prescribe a painkiller to an inmate who has suffered a serious injury from a fall, but that the inmate’s symptoms, despite the medication, persist to the point that he now, by all objective measure, requires evaluation for surgery. Would prison officials then be free to deny him consideration for surgery, immunized from constitutional suit by the fact they were giving him a painkiller? We think not.”

Judicial Watch reports that courts throughout the nation have ruled in favor of transgendered people in recent years. Massachusetts pays for hormone shots for at least four inmates “diagnosed with gender identity disorder.”

Colorado pays for female hormone treatment of a convicted child molester who is suing the state to provide him with a specialist, whom the inmate hopes will determine the costly sex-reassignment operation is necessary, according to Judicial Watch.