RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- Let’s see . . . a man serving 70-plus years for armed robberies and other crimes suing to have the state pay for his sex change operation?
Absolutely, crazy? Never happen?
Don’t bet on it.
Ophelia De’Lonta’s crusade to get the state to pay for sex reassignment surgery is just her latest expensive, gender-related lawsuit against the prison system. She’s been suing the state for the past 15 years, actually winning a case because the department of corrections stopped providing her with female hormones.
De’Lonta’s attorneys asked a federal appeals panel Wednesday to let a lower court decide her lifelong quest for a sex-change operation.
A year ago, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed De'Lonta's suit, concluding the Virginia Department of Corrections was adequately treating De'Lonta's gender identity disorder, according to the Associated Press.
Locked down for almost 30 years, Ophelia De’Lonta - born Michael Stokes - has a rough rap sheet that includes malicious wounding, assault, sodomy and multiple robbery and larceny charges, some of them purse-snatchings - crimes against women.
She once told a reporter she committed her robberies to pay for her sex-change surgery.
De’Lonta is part of a small wave of cases involving imprisoned transsexuals suing for this $15,000 to $25,000 surgery because it’s necessary for their health or safety.
Just a month ago in Massachusetts, one of them won.
In 1990, Robert Kosilek strangled his wife, Cheryl, to death with a wire and left her body, naked, in her car at a shopping mall after she caught him wearing her clothes.
Massachusetts has been paying for his hormone therapy and electrolysis. A federal judge there ruled last month that the state must provide sex change surgery because it is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's "serious medical need," according to news reports there.
The state must also pay Kosilek’s legal expenses. Massachusetts is appealing.
And Lyralisa Stevens, who is serving 50 years in a California prison for shotgun murder over a clothing debt, is suing the state to get a sex change operation so she can serve her time in a women’s prison, safe from the sexual assaults she says she has suffered in the men’s prison.
Remember, both Kosilek and Stevens killed women – and they want to be housed in women’s prisons.
And a California senator has introduced legislation mandating that transgendered inmates be placed in opposite sex facilities after hearing that the transgendered CeCe McDonald of Minneapolis is serving almost four years on a manslaughter charge in a men’s facility. McDonald killed a man who was part of a group who taunted and attacked her.
It’s a world-wide issue, with transsexuals being spared jail time because of housing issues (England) or fighting for the right to live their perceived gender in prison (Australia).
While many, including the American Medical Association, believe this procedure can be crucial to the mental health and stability of transsexuals, this kind of surgery is elective.
It’s not like heart bypass surgery.
(By the way, would you pay for a facelift, gastric bypass or a penile implant for an inmate on the basis that it would make them happier and less likely to re-offend?)
But the treatment of the transgendered has shifted recently. We’re already seeing some health insurance companies cover sex reassignment procedures in rare cases. It will likely eventually be part of our national health care.
But friends, we can’t reward people who rob and murder with an expensive elective medical procedure of any kind. Kosilek is basically getting a $20,000 bonus for killing his wife.
You want to be a woman? Don’t rob, don’t murder. Act like a lady.
That’s my take. I love to hear yours here on WTVR.com.