'Important Step For Transgender Inmates' Cheered By ACLU

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | January 28, 2013 | 6:25 PM EST

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has given new life to a lawsuit by a transgender inmate who wants the Virginia Department of Corrections to provide a sex change operation.

The court ruled that Ophelia De'lonta stated a "plausible" claim that the Virginia Department of Corrections violated a constitutional right to be evaluated for sex reassignment surgery. The ruling allows Ms. De'lonta's case to move proceed even though it had previously been dismissed by the district court.

"The Court of Appeals recognized that prison officials may not arbitrarily refuse to consider sex reassignment surgery," said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg. "This is an important step forward for transgender inmates."

According to the ACLJ of Virginia, "De'lonta, a transgender woman, suffers from Gender Identity Disorder," or GID - which it says manifests itself in sufferers via "discomfort with their physiological sex that is so extreme that it causes severe emotional and physical distress."

The ACJL of Virginia says that De'lonta's GID is so severe that it "has led her to attempt self-castration numerous times, sometimes leading to hospitalization."

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