Taxpayers owe inmate gender reassignment surgery. The appeals court ruling is it’s medically necessary and not to do so would be cruel and unusual punishment. The State of Idaho must pay for a sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery. That is the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from last week. Here’s the Hines Report on the case.
Meet Adree Edmo
The inmate, 31-year-old Adree Edmo, was born a male. He identifies as female. She is currently serving three to 10 years for sexual abuse of a child. Edmo sued the state for refusing to pay for the inmate’s gender reassignment surgery.
The inmate’s argument is: Not having gender reassignment surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. It causes severe distress. The inmate has gender dysphoria. Edmo’s attorneys argued their client’s gender dysphoria is so bad that he can’t function on a day-to-day basis. Not having the gender reassignment surgery is the cause. That makes it the responsibility to remedy.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Edmo’s attorney, Deborah Ferguson, told KBOI-TV. “They certainly would treat a prisoner with cancer. They treat a prisoner with diabetes, or other chronic conditions… So, we have a medically recognized condition that’s very treatable. We have been trying to get her the treatment that she very much needs.”
A lower court agreed with Edmo. The state of Idaho, however, challenged the decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who agreed with the District Court judge writing:
“We hold that where, as here, the record shows that the medically necessary treatment for a prisoner’s gender dysphoria is gender confirmation surgery, and responsible prison officials deny such treatment with full awareness of the prisoner’s suffering, those officials violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment,” the Appellate Court ruled.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little plans to appeal to the Supreme Court saying in a statement, “The court’s decision is extremely disappointing… The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals. We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.”
Edmo, however, is taking a victory lap. Edmo said in a statement released by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who filed the lawsuit on his behalf. “I am relieved and grateful the court recognized my right to necessary medical treatment, and that I will get the surgery I need. I hope my case helps the State of Idaho understand that they can’t deny medical care to transgender people,”
If the State of Idaho pays for Edmo’s gender reassignment surgery, this would be the first time in history an inmate has had this type of surgery performed while incarcerated. The state has spent more than $325,000 on appealing the original decision. Taxpayers owe inmate gender reassignment surgery or they are guilty of cruel and unusual punishment.