Supreme Court Rules Idaho Must Provide Surgery for Trans Inmate

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of trans inmate Adree Edmo, denying Idaho's appeal that she be denied gender confirmation surgery.

Adree Edmo

Adree Edmo

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of transgender inmate Adree Edmo, denying Idaho’s appeal that she be denied gender confirmation surgery.

The New York Times reports that the court’s brief order, which gave no reasons, let stand a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, in favor of the prisoner, Adree Edmo, a transgender woman.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little had petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States after failing twice to overturn lower court rulings that required Idaho to pay for Ms. Adree Edmo’s gender confirmation surgery.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the Supreme Court sided with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s previous ruling that denying Edmo the surgery constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

“I am relieved and grateful that the court validated my right to necessary medical treatment,” Adree Edmo said in 2018 NCLR press release after the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ruled in her favor. “Not having the care I need is like being in a prison within a prison. Even though I am still living, it has felt like I have been dying inside.”

Ms. Edmo, 32, is serving a sentence for a 2011 sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy and is scheduled to be released from prison next year.

Edmo’s attorneys have argued she needs the surgery soon, because her gender dysphoria is severe, and hurting her. She has twice tried to castrate herself while in prison — once in 2015, and once in 2016.

Despite Edmo’s castration attempts, Dr. Scott Eliason, Corizon’s regional psychiatric director who treated Edmo for a time, did not recommend her for gender confirmation surgery.

Eliason testified at a 2018 hearing that he did not recommend the surgery because he felt Edmo had other, uncontrolled mental health challenges, including depression and alcohol abuse disorder. He also said he did not feel Edmo had adequately lived as a woman for 12 straight months, which at that time was the commonly accepted prerequisite for the surgery.

Denying Ms. Edmo healthcare had become a conservative battle cry in Idaho which this year passed a law denying transgender women athletes the right to compete in intramural and collegiate sports, the only state to do so.

The state also passed a law denying transgender people birth certificate gender marker corrections ignoring a court ruling and previous AG statements that doing so was unconstitutional.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little held the trans community hostage by waiting to the last moment possible to sign those bills into law on the eve of the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV).

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