Friday, August 03, 2007

Judge Forces Idaho To Fund Estrogen Treatment for Man Who Thinks He Is A Woman

Federal district Judge Mikel Williams ruled on Friday that the Idaho Department of Correction must provide an inmate with estrogen therapy. The judge will consider continuing treatment when the issue goes to trial. The inmate believes that he is a woman trapped in a man's body. The man, who castrated himself using a disposable razor blade while in prison, demanded female hormone therapy. He also changed his name from Randall Gammett to Jenniffer Spencer. The man is serving a 10-year sentence for escape and possession of a stolen car.

After prison officials refused estrogen therapy, but instead offered testosterone therapy to replace the hormones lost to castration, the inmate sued, alleging he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and other constitutional violations.

State officials said the inmate was in prison for several years before demanding treatment. In 2004, he survived an attempted suicide. Two months later he tried to castrate himself, failing in the first attempt but later succeeding. He was diagnosed with an unspecified sexual disorder and bipolar disorder.

Liberty Counsel is a nationwide legal organization with experience in litigation of transsexual legal issues. In June 2004, Liberty Counsel won a case on behalf of a Florida woman against the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented a woman who, after watching an MTV program and so-called "sex reassignment surgery," changed her name from Margo to Michael, began testosterone treatment, and then had a total mastectomy and hysterectomy. This person then wanted to be considered "male" for purposes of Florida's marriage laws. Although a trial court judge wrote an 809-page opinion claiming that gender is primarily a "state of mind," Liberty Counsel got the ruling overturned on appeal. The appeals court ruled that "the common meaning of male and female . . . [refers] to immutable traits determined at birth."

Hormones and plastic surgery do not change a person's sex, which is an immutable trait fixed at birth. Plastic surgery and hormone treatment to alter a person's sexual appearance is no more warranted than is liposuction for an anorexic. The state should not be compelled to fund so-called sex reassignment surgery, especially when such treatment is not widely accepted, is experimental, and has not been shown to resolve the disturbed mental behavior.