Sex Change Operations for Prisoners: Should Taxpayers Pay?

Heather Murphy-Raines

Were you aware that there are transgender murderers and violent criminals with life sentences in prison who receive sex hormone replacement therapy on the taxpayers' dime? I was shocked to find out that in California, since 1999, it has been court mandated.

Now the boundary is being pushed by outrageous prisoner demands for sexual reassignment surgery. Lyralisa Stevens -- living as a woman and receiving sex hormones since 2003 when she began her 50-year-to-life sentence for murdering a woman in a dispute over clothing -- has filed a lawsuit demanding a sex change on the taxpayers' dime. 

My friends, if you look at my past posts, I am more than supportive of GLBT rights, but this is absurd. These men took away the life of others and we are supposed to be concerned with their mental health and pursuit of happiness -- all supposedly solvable by expensive, elective plastic surgery?

Seriously? Yes, serious they are. California prisons incarcerate more than 300 inmates diagnosed with "gender identity disorder." Those inmates are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in prison, according to a new study.

Stevens and her witnesses claim that surgery is medically necessary, and that "removal of her penis and testicles and transfer to a women's prison are the best way to protect her from rape and abuse by male inmates." Let's repeat that: After the surgery reassigning her parts to make her a woman, she then wants to be moved to a female prison for her safety.

Despite the study and her claims, California officials aren't buying it. They argue that the state should be required to provide only "minimally adequate care." I am inclined to agree with them. When did prisoners' rights trump the rights of their victims? Why should they be guaranteed the safety their victims were denied? What about the lives these criminals took? What about their victim's happiness?

Especially in these economic times, is it reasonable to provide better benefits and costly elective services to incarcerated inmates over that of regular citizens? Would this be an incentive for typically law-abiding transgender citizens who cannot afford the surgery they want to commit a crime to get Uncle Sam to pick up the tab? My thoughts are that the estimated $50,000 for a sex change per felon would be better spent on education to prevent young children from ever becoming felons.

In the wise words of Lady Gaga, yes, baby, you were born that way. However, there's no compelling argument that you deserve better than everyday citizens. You made your bed. You committed your crime as a man. Now live with it ... as a man. Man up!

Photo via by iambicpentameter/Flickr

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