A convicted murderer serving a life sentence in California has become the first inmate in America to have gender confirmation surgery paid for by a state.
Shiloh Heavenly Quine, 57, had the surgery in San Francisco Thursday and will be moved to a women’s prison when she leaves the hospital, Reuters reported.
Quine — who has been convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom and has no possibility of parole — won the right to the surgery after a hard-fought court settlement in 2015.
As part of the settlement, the state also agreed to create new policies in California allowing other inmates to apply to a six-member committee for gender confirmation surgery. In addition, California agreed to supply clothing and some accessories in prison consistent with an inmate’s gender identity.
“For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who we are,” Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which represents Quine, said in a statement.
The daughter of Quine’s victim is furious.
“My dad begged for his life,” said Farida Baig, who tried to block Quine’s surgery through the courts, The Associated Press reported. “It made me dizzy and sick. I’m helping pay for his [sic] surgery. I live in California. It’s kind of like a slap in the face.”
Quine and an accomplice kidnapped and fatally shot 33-year-old Shahid Ali Baig, a father of three, in Los Angeles in 1980, and took $80 and his car.
The state was legally required to pay for the operation, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.
“The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that prisons provide inmates with medically necessary treatment for medical and mental health conditions including inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” she said in a statement.
Quine told a prison psychologist who recommended her for the operation that it would bring a “drastic, internal completeness,” according to the AP.
She tried to cut and hang herself in prison five times in suicide attempts.
Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, a transgender former inmate, won a federal court order in 2015 mandating that California pay for her gender confirmation surgery, but she was placed on parole before she could have the operation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
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