US Supreme Court rules that not providing sex reassignment surgery to an inmate is 'cruel and unusual punishment'

The US Supreme Court declined to halt the court-ordered sex reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate in Idaho, who was convicted of molesting a minor.
Collin Jones The Post Millennial

The US Supreme Court last week declined to halt the court-ordered sex reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate. Idaho Governor Brad Little had appealed a lower court ruling that required the state to pay for the surgery, and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

What this ruling means is that the inmate, Adree Edmo, may continue their pre-surgical regimen of treatments in preparation for gender-reassignment surgery, while Idaho pursues an appeal.

Edmo, who is serving 10 years for the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy, is scheduled for release in 2021, but is not eligible for parole. Edmo was 22 at the time of the crime.

Edmo was diagnosed with gender dysphoria during the time spent in prison. The condition was so profound that Edmo attempted to self-castrate twice while housed in a male penitentiary.

Edmo sued Idaho for sex reassignment surgery, when the prison refused to undertake the cost of their own volition. If the order is upheld, Edmo will be the first inmate to successfully force the state to pay for this kind of extreme, elective surgery, based entirely on a mental condition.

The Supreme Court's order in this pending case noted that while Justice Elena Kagan denied the stay of the surgery per a lower court's ruling, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have granted the application to stay the procedure.

In short, the minority opinion was that the state of Idaho should not have to pay for sex reassignment surgery on behalf of a prison inmate of that state, while the majority is in favour of forcing the state to fund the operation. The stay was requested by Idaho prison officials, according to the New York Times.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco heard the case, and ruled that a simple diagnosis of gender dysphoria would not be enough to warrant surgery. Edmo's attorney's however, was able to show that the prison's refusal to offer reassignment surgery, including castration and breast implants, would violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The 9th Circuit had initially refused to rehear Edmo's case en banc back in February.

A statement on this denial by Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the 9th Circuit, together with 8 other judges, said the 9th Circuit was the first federal appeals court to require a state to permit sex reassignment surgery to a prisoner under the Eighth Amendment.

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