U.S. judges hear transgender inmate’s sex-change appeal

Posted at 5:03 PM, Oct 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-24 17:03:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Transgender inmate Ophelia De`Lonta appeared in federal appeals court Wednesday, requesting that her case for a sexual reassignment surgery be heard in a lower Virginia court.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case. Her attorneys asked the judges to reverse a previous ruling that dismissed her case. De`Lonta, who is housed at Buckingham Correctional Center for bank robbery, was earlier denied sexual reassignment surgery, with the judge ruling that the Department of Corrections has done its part to treat her.

She’s been taking hormone therapy treatments behind bars. In past interviews with her, she begged the world not to judge her and desperately wants sex reassignment surgery. De`Lonta said the worst part about living with Gender Identity Disorder is waking up and not seeing who she really is.

De`Lonta told CBS 6 News’ Shelby Brown that she is a woman who feels trapped in a man`s body – and thinks the world is passing judgment.

“It`s not just from my point of view medically necessary, but my doctors say it’s a medical necessity,” said De`Lonta.

In fact, De`Lonta said she realized in her teens that she was different. However, she said she thought robbery would one day help her get enough money to pay for a sex change. But, it simply landed her in prison.

Now, De`Lonta said she is beyond that and desperately needs the surgery. She has even tried to self-castrate.

“I don`t regret it, other than I didn`t finish.  The pain is a lot more bearable that the pain I go through every day,” said De`Lonta.

In addition, De`Lonta said she understands that people are concerned about tax dollars being spent on the procedure, but that she feels it is medically necessary.

The judges typically rule 30 to 60 days after arguments are heard.