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Trans Prisoner Suing for Gender-Affirming Surgery to Be Released

Trans Prisoner Suing for Gender-Affirming Surgery to Be Released


California officials, who don't want to pay for Michelle-Lael Norsworthy's surgery, are now releasing her on parole.

A surprising twist came this week in the case of Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, a trans prisoner fighting to have the state of California pay for her gender-affirming surgery.

Norsworthy, convicted three decades ago for shooting and killing a man during a dispute at a bar, will be released on parole after state officials deemed her no longer violent. Norsworthy, 51, admits drinking heavily at the time she killed a 26-year-old man in 1985, but has been sober for years, according to The New York Times.

Norsworthy is serving time in a men's prison, though she's identified as female since the 1990s and has been on hormone therapy since that time. After finding out a Massachusetts judge ordered the state to pay for a prisoner's gender-affirming surgery (a decision later overturned), Norsworthy took California to court to pay for her procedure.

A federal judge ruled in April that California must pay for the surgery, but the state appealed. Now, with the Board of Parole Hearings' decision to release Norsworthy, a decision that Governor Jerry Brown let stand on Friday, it seems unlikely that the state will pay for the procedure.

California did agree to pay for the gender-affirming surgery of another trans female inmate, Shiloh Quine.

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