Update: De’Lonta Will Be Allowed An Independent Evaluation of Her GID
Ophelia De’Lonta, a transgender inmate being held in a Virginia Federal Prison, won the right to visit a doctor of her choosing to find out if the gender reassignment surgery she seeks is medically necessary.
The prisons medical staff had determined it unnecessary, and De’Lonta had filed a suit under the 8th amendment saying she was being forced into cruel and unusual punishment for being denied the surgery.
Court documents show the argument to allow De’Lonta the independent evaluation comes from the court recognizing lack De’Lonta was never properly evaluated for her perceived gender Identity disorder.
“… it is beyond cavil that a plaintiff may retain its own expert medical witness to examine himself and render opinion testimony at trial… we struggle to discern how De’Lonta could have possibly” proven that she has a medical need for Sexual Reassignment Surgery if she has never been allowed to be evaluated by a GID specialist in the first place”
De’Lonta has two months to report to a doctor for evaluation, after which she will return to the court with the results.
Convicted bank robber and gender identity disorder sufferer, Ophelia Delonta, will get her day in court today. De’Lonta has been fighting for state-funded gender reassignment De’Lonta since 2011, and today’s hearing will decided if she can receive a medical evaluation to see if the surgery is medically necessary.
De’Lonta currently receives female hormone treatment for her GID and wears a female prisoners uniform, however she still resides in a male prison ward as state-prison law says inmates serve with their birth gender, not their perceived gender.
De’Lonta and her lawyer believe gender reassignment surgery is the only way to help her. Resorting to self-mutilation, De’Lonta has destroyed one testicle, and harmed herself as many as 20 times according to a Roanoke Times article. She has been in jail for 30 years for a bank robbery she claims was carried out to help pay for gender reassignment surgery. She still has 40 years to go.
In January of this year, the 4th district granted De’Lonta an appeal, saying she had a “sufficiently plausible” claim under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits the government from committing cruel and unusual punishment. In an interview with GayRVA earlier this year, De’Lonta’s Lawyer Victor Glasberg explained the medical necessity of gender reassignment surgery for inmates like De’Lonta. “Think of it like cancer, you can treat it with radiation, you can treat it with chemotherapy, and there comes a point when you treat it with surgery. You have to cut it off,” said Glasberg. “Whatever it is, so as not to endanger the rest of the body.”
The argument against the inmate receiving gender reassignment surgery stems from De’Lonta’s general mental instability – including a history of violence from a young age. A psychiatrist who examined De’Lonta, Dr. Victoria Codispoti, said in court papers that De’lonta suffers from a myriad of mental illnesses, and, even in prison, has a tendency toward manipulative and maladaptive behavior.
Today’s hearing aims to see if De’Lonta needs a medical evaluation to determine if gender reassignment surgery is necessary – not to decided on allowing the surgery itself. The state has continually argued that the issue is a medical one, and not something that a judge can even decided upon.
De’Lonta’s case parallels Massachusetts’s Michelle Kosilek, a convicted serial killer who also suffers from GID. Kosilek was granted a state-funded gender reassignment surgery in 2012, but the federal government has since appealed the decision.
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