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A transgender inmate who says she has been repeatedly raped since
her 2003 incarceration is asking a federal court in San Francisco for a
state-funded gender-reassignment surgery so she can be transferred to a
Lyralisa Stevens, 42, who was born male but now lives as a female, is serving 50 years to life in a California prison for the shotgun murder of a San Bernardino County woman following a dispute over clothes. The 5-foot-6 Stevens, who began her prison sentence with a feminized physique -- silicon-enhanced breasts and hips -- says she has been sexually assaulted in the all-male facility and subjected to constant harassment.
"The male inmate is not expecting to see breasts in the shower next to him," says Stevens, whose expert witnesses claim the surgery and transfer are the best way to protect the convicted murder from further abuse.
While the prison has been providing Stevens with female hormones since 2003, opposing counsel has argued that the state should only be required to provide "minimally adequate care," not an operation that will cost taxpayers as much as $50,000.
"A prison is not required by law to give a prisoner medical care that is as good as he would receive if he were a free person, let alone an affluent free person," wrote attorney Steven J. Bechtold, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
According to California law, the state's 162,000 prisoners are assigned to men's or women's institutions based on their gender, which is determined solely by the prisoner's genitals.
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