A convicted murderer serving a life sentence in a California prison has become the first inmate in the country to receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery.
Shiloh Heavenly Quine, 57, was granted the right to the surgery by prison officials in August of 2015, the AP reports. She’ll be moved to a women’s prison once she’s released from the San Francisco hospital where the operation was performed. According to Kris Hayashi, the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, Quine’s surgery represents a victory “for all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care we need.”
“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,” Hayashi said.
Quine is serving life without parole after kidnapping and fatally shooting Shahid Ali Baig, a father of three, in downtown L.A. in February of 1980. She was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom. Baig’s daughter, Farida, is not thrilled about Quine’s procedure, and campaigned to keep it from happening.
“My dad begged for his life,” she said. “It just made me dizzy and sick. I’m helping pay for his surgery; I live in California. It’s kind of like a slap in the face.” The cost of such operations, including before and after care, are generally around $100,000, a spokeswoman for the court-appointed official who controls California’s prison medical care told CBS News.
Nevertheless, corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said that California was legally obligated to finance Quine’s operation.
“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,” Thornton said in a statement.
Quine’s case has also paved the way for laws requiring California prisons to provide female inmates living in men’s facilities with “female-oriented” items, like nightgowns, scarves and necklaces.
Quine told a prison psychologist that she expects the surgery to bring her a “drastic, internal completeness.” Prior to the operation, she’d made repeated attempts to cut and hang herself, most recently in 2014 after receiving word she’d been denied the procedure.