Los Angeles (AFP) - A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered California to pay for a sex-change operation for a biologically male prisoner that could cost as much as $100,000.
US District Court Judge Jon Tigar ruled Thursday that Michelle-Lael B. Norsworthy, who was born Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy, should undergo gender-reassignment surgery at the state's expense to ensure her constitutional rights are met.
"Defendants shall take all of the actions reasonably necessary to provide Norsworthy sex-reassignment surgery as promptly as possible," the judge wrote.
Norsworthy has been in prison since 1987 and is serving 17 years to life for the 1985 shooting death of an acquaintance, according to the Orange County Register newspaper.
Norsworthy, 51, started to identify as a woman in the 1990s and was diagnosed in January 2000 with gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder.
"She is seeking access to the medical treatment prescribed by her treating provider and denied for administrative, rather than medical, reasons," the judge said in his ruling.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton told AFP the state was reviewing all options, "including whether or not to appeal."
According to the Los Angeles Times, the operation could cost about $100,000.