AP — California prison officials are setting the first standards for which transgender inmates should receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery after spending years in court fighting to block the operations.
In a policy that took effect Tuesday and was reviewed by The Associated Press, prison mental health professionals would refer the inmates for the surgery. To qualify for the surgery, inmates must be diagnosed with what is formally known as gender dysphoria; have expressed a desire for sex-reassignment surgery for at least two years; and have lived as a member of the preferred gender for at least 12 months.
The announcement comes after California became the first state to agree to pay for one inmate's surgery and refused to provide the surgery to a second inmate who has since been paroled.
The guidelines are believed to be the first in the nation by a prison system, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed official who controls California's prison medical care. They were developed in cooperation with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which oversees inmates' mental health care.
"We understood there needed to be some uniform protocols in place that focused on the need for surgery when it was medically necessary, when there weren't any alternatives that were feasible," she said. The standards are similar to those used by medical providers outside the prison system, she said. continue reading...