Transgender Inmate Asking For Reassignment Surgery Will Be Paroled

Illustration for article titled Transgender Inmate Asking For Reassignment Surgery Will Be Paroled

A California parole board has recommended that Michelle-Lael Norsworthy be released from prison. Norsworthy had been at the center of a contentious fight between herself and the state of California, whom she had petitioned to pay for sex reassignment surgery.


Norsworthy was imprisoned 30 years ago after she shot and killed a man over a bar fight. At the time of her conviction, Norsworthy identified as male and is held at Mule Creek State Prison, an all-male facility. Norsworthy began to transition in the 1990s.

The Associated Press reports:

A federal judge in April ordered the state to provide the surgery, which had been scheduled for July. It was delayed after the state appealed.


The appellate court noted that the case raises serious legal questions about whether denying the surgery violates Norsworthy’s constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment.


California had consistently refused Norsworthy’s requests for surgery though the state did pay for the reassignment surgery of another inmate. Rather than continue to fight Norsworthy’s lawsuits, California governor Jerry Brown seems to be content the parole board’s decision.

Image via AP.

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Graby Sauce

I can’t get on board with taxpayers footing the bill for sex re-assignment surgery. However someone feels about their body, it is still functional, and there is no guarantee that surgery will solve their dysphoria or that it won’t lead to other complications. I think 30 years is probably enough time served for a bar fight leading to a death (no premeditation), so letting them out to deal with the reassignment question on their own seems appropriate.