Attorneys: Transgender inmate's surgery order will stand
Feb. 24, 2016
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Attorneys for a recently paroled transgender inmate said Tuesday that California has agreed to drop its challenge to a court order that could have provided her with state-paid sex reassignment surgery.
The settlement won't help Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, who was released from prison in August.
But her attorneys said the settlement means that an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco will stay on the books as a legal precedent that could help other transgender inmates nationwide.
In April, Tigar ordered the state to provide Norsworthy with the surgery. It was just the second time that any judge in the United States directed a state prison system to provide the operation, and the previous order in a Massachusetts case was overturned.
The state appealed Tigar's ruling, but Norsworthy was paroled one day before a federal appeals court was to hear the case.
"Even though I have been released, this settlement means that there is an undisputed legal precedent out there for all of the transgender people still suffering in prison today," Norsworthy said in a statement released by the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center.
In October, California prison officials set the nation's first standards for determining when transgender inmates should receive the surgery.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Jeffrey Callison declined comment. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, which represented the department, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A one-paragraph court filing Tuesday by the attorney general's office and an attorney for Norsworthy says the lawsuit has been settled. It does not provide details on the settlement terms.
However, the Transgender Law Center said the state also agreed to pay nearly $500,000 to cover attorney's fees and costs.