The ruling upholds a trial court decision by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill in a lawsuit filed by convicted child rapist Mason Dean “Adree” Edmo.
The 31-year-old Idaho State Correctional Center inmate—a biological male who identifies as a woman—is serving a sentence of three to 10 years for sexual abuse of a child under 16.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Edmo sued the Idaho Department of Correction and its medical provider on the grounds that refusing to provide so-called gender confirmation surgery amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.
Edmo claims to have undergone severe distress due to the denial of gender dysphoria treatment.
“Our court and others have been considering Eighth Amendment claims brought by transgender prisoners for decades,” the three-judge appeals panel said in its ruling Friday. “During that time, the medical community’s understanding of what treatments are safe and medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria has changed as more information becomes available, research is undertaken, and experience is gained.”
Gov. Little said the court’s ruling was “extremely disappointing” in a written statement.
“The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals,” Little said. “We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.”
If the procedure is performed, it would be the first time in the nation an inmate has undergone gender-reassignment surgery while in custody.
This is not the first case in which transgender issues involving prison inmates has arisen.
The highest profile case involved Army spy Chelsea Manning—who was born Bradley Manning, a biological male, but suffered from gender dysphoria and received hormone treatments while incarcerated.
As a military intelligence analyst, Manning disclosed hundreds of thousands of documents including American military operations to the website Wikileaks. Manning was arrested in 2010 and convicted on 20 charges involving espionage.
President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in 2017.