California, ever-eager to lead the nation in exploring new territory, has become the first state to volunteer to pay for sex reassignment surgery for a jail inmate.
On Friday, the state’s corrections department announced the state would fund the surgery for Rodney James Quine, 56, who goes by Shiloh Quine. The department stated, “Every medical doctor and mental health clinician who has reviewed this case, including two independent mental health experts, determined that this surgery is medically necessary for Quine.”
In June, one of those “medical health experts,” Richard Carroll, a clinical psychologist and director of the Sexual Disorders and Couple Therapy Program at Northwestern University in Chicago, wrote, “Sex reassignment surgery is medically necessary to prevent Ms. Quine from suffering significant illness or disability, and to alleviate severe pain caused by her gender dysphoria.” Surgery would lessen her “depression, anxiety and risk of suicide attempts.”
Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, opposed the decision, telling The Los Angeles Times, “The idea that the 8th Amendment requires something for prisoners not available to the law-abiding public is something a lot of people find offensive.”
In California, almost 400 transgender inmates receive hormonal treatment. Although the corrections department has approved the surgery for Quine, the case cannot be extrapolated from other inmates receiving the same surgery, as no indication was given that Quine deserved the surgery as a constitutional right.
Both Quine and Jeffrey Norsworthy, who goes by Michelle Norsworthy, had sued to force the state to pay for the sex reasignment surgery, but the corrections department’s decision to pay for Quine and Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to let Norsworthy be paroled before the surgery could be upheld by an appellate court, meaning that the state could evade the question of what to do with the other transgender inmates.
Norsworthy, 51, shot Franklin Gordon Liefer Jr. to death 30 years ago. Quine was convicted in 1981 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery,