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Is costly sex-reassignment surgery a constitutional right for incarcerated felons who label themselves transgender? A federal appellate court seems to think so, ruling last week that one state trampled on an inmate’s rights for refusing to pay for the procedure, which costs around $20,000.

The case comes out of Virginia where the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided that denying a transgender bank robber’s sex-reassignment surgery violates the constitution’s Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. A federal judge in Roanoke denied the argument finding that hormone therapy and psychological counseling provided by the prison are sufficient accommodations for a transgender prisoner. Officials also allow the convict to dress and live as a woman.

But the felon (Michael Stokes), who is serving a 73-year sentence, appealed with the help of leftist civil rights groups. In the appeal Stokes asserts that the accommodations made by the prison did not ease his “extreme distress,” which includes several self-castration attempts. Denying the surgery unconstitutionally ignores his serious medical needs, the bank robber claims in his complaint. For more of the article go here.

 

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