A three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the Idaho Department of
Corrections to provide gender reassignment surgery to a transgender
The court said that denying the
procedure when it is medically necessary violates the 8th
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“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
Adree Edmo testified that in 2015 she
attempted to castrate herself using a disposable razor blade. She
removed one testicle during a second attempt in 2016. The testicle
was repaired at a nearby hospital.
Last year, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn
Winmill sided with Edmo and ordered Idaho to provide the surgery.
Friday's order upholds Winmill's ruling.
Edmo is represented by the National
Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
“One of the foundational principles
of our Constitution is that the State cannot subject people in its
custody to cruel and unusual punishment, including by failing to
treat serious medical conditions,” NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Amy
Whelan said in a statement. “This ruling is in line not only with
long-standing medical evidence, but also with legal rulings across
the country that it is dangerous and unconstitutional to deny
transgender people access to medically necessary care in prison.”
Prison officials have not said whether
they will appeal the ruling.