May 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Harris seeks to block gender reassignment for trans inmate

Kamala Harris, California, gay news, Washington Blade

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is seeking a stay on court-ordered gender reassignment surgery for a trans inmate. (Photo public domain)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris late Monday made a new request on behalf of her state to halt a district court ruling in favor of gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmate.

In a 29-page request before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Harris and other state attorneys call on the appeals court to stay the procedure for Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, who’s incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., for second-degree murder.

“There is no evidence that irreversible treatment is immediately necessary before this appeal can be heard and the factual record can be fully developed in a proceeding on remand,” the request states. “On the other hand, the record demonstrates that the Defendants will be irreparably injured if the district court’s order stands and surgery goes forward because the case will effectively become moot, precluding appellate review.”

Last month, U.S. District Jon Tigar ordered the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to grant Norsworthy the procedure on the basis that withholding it constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to filing a notice of appeal, Harris requested a stay with the district court to halt the order as the litigation continues, but Tigar denied the request. In the aftermath of the judge’s refusal, Harris is now taking up the matter of a stay with the Ninth Circuit.

It remains to be seen whether the action will be politically harmful for Harris, who has a reputation for being a champion of LGBT rights, as she seeks the Democratic nomination to become the next U.S. senator for California in the 2016 election.

A Harris spokesperson referred comment to the governor’s office and the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. The agency had no additional comment.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Michael David Barber Moghul

    This article doesn’t give much background on the case.

  • IndianaEdwards

    seems she is all for the GLBTI – the T

    • There are many beneficial surgical treatments the state doesn’t cover for inmates. The law says they only have to provide immediately necessary treatment. Since this surgery can be put off for quite some time (often to the detriment of a patient, like many other treatment delays) it would be classified similarly.

      Norsworthy was granted parole, and hence, her case was different – the surgery could be delayed until it didn’t require special consideration.

      Doesn’t mean Harris is anti-trans.

      The state now (the article is several years old) has now covered surgery in at least one instance and has a policy in place.

  • jeb bush

    This article has very little information about the case. Is this just a hit piece on Harris?

    • Seedee Vee

      If you consider reporting actual actions that Harris did while in power in California – a “hit piece” – then, yes, this is a hit piece.

  • ta2t2o

    So why is the person an inmate? They kill somebody? Rob somebody? Assault somebody? Just to get a free operation?

  • pixiedust8

    So, how will the case become moot if there’s an operation? Seems like a lot of information is missing.

    • Seedee Vee

      Because the State of California would have already paid for the operation and the whole point of Harris here is to not have CA pay for something she feels will not benefit her politically.

  • Fanny_Windstorm

    Does this cut into the profits of private prisons?

  • bassdesires

    Something sounds hinky here. Sounds more like a ‘hit’ piece than real reportage.

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