California judge denies request to stay inmate’s sexual reassignment


A federal judge denied a motion Monday to halt an inmate’s sex reassignment surgery but noted his order does not apply to other prisoners needing surgery.

U.S. District Court Jon Tigar in San Francisco said stopping Michelle-Lael Norsworthy’s surgery would result in substantial injury because she suffers from gender dysphoria, according to court documents. Her condition could worsen if her hormone therapy is modified or discontinued because of liver complications.

Tigar found Norsworthy is “suffering from irreparable injury as a result of the deprivation of her 8th Amendment rights.”


In denying the motion, Tigar contended his ruling applies only to Norsworthy and cannot be interpreted to compel the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to perform surgical procedures on any other inmates.

Norsworthy, 51, was born a man, Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy, and is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for a second-degree murder conviction. Norsworthy is housed at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.

She was diagnosed with dysphoria in January 2000 but began identifying as a woman in the 1990s.

CDCR filed a request to stay Norsworthy’s sex reassignment surgery earlier this month after Tigar ruled her constitutional right would be violated if she was not allowed to undergo the procedure.

“Norsworthy has been treated for gender dysphoria for over 20 years, and there is no indication that her condition has somehow worsened to the point where she must obtain sex-reassignment surgery now rather than waiting until this case produces a final judgment on the merits,” according to the CDCR’s request.

Tigar said the CDCR could seek a stay in the court of appeals.

Ryan Parker contributed to this report.

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