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California sets inmate sex reassignment rules

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Oct 21, 4:19 AM (ET)



(AP) In this May 21, 2015, file photo, inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy speaks...
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California prison officials are setting the first standards for which transgender inmates should receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery after spending years in court fighting to block the operations.

In a policy that took effect Tuesday and was reviewed by The Associated Press, prison mental health professionals would refer the inmates for the surgery. To qualify for the surgery, inmates must be diagnosed with what is formally known as gender dysphoria; have expressed a desire for sex-reassignment surgery for at least two years; and have lived as a member of the preferred gender for at least 12 months.






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A transgender inmate whose case led to a ruling requiring California prisons to allow sex-reassignment surgery when doctors recommend it settled her claims Tuesday against the state, which agreed to drop its appeal and pay her legal costs.

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, 52, was released on parole in August after serving 30 years in prison for second-degree murder in Orange County, and now lives at a halfway house in San Francisco. She became aware of her female identity in the mid-1990s and started taking hormone therapy, with prison doctors’ approval, in 2000.



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