BOISE — A federal appeals says Idaho must provide gender confirmation surgery to a transgender inmate who has been living as a woman for years but who has continuously been housed in a men’s prison.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday agreed with a federal judge in Idaho that the state’s denying the surgery for Adree Edmo amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill in December ruled that Edmo showed she had a serious medical need and that failure to treat her medical condition could result in significant further injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Edmo has tried to self-castrate herself twice.
Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said the department was reviewing the ruling and couldn’t comment.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little intends to appeal the ruling, according to a statement he issued Friday.
“The court’s decision is extremely disappointing,” Little’s statement reads. “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. … We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.”
The state has 90 days to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two cases similar to Edmo’s have been appealed to the highest court in the land. In the 1st and 5th Circuit Courts of Appeals, judges ruled against granting inmates gender confirmation surgery. The contradicting rulings in the circuit courts could make it more likely the Supreme Court takes the case, according to NPR.
According to the Idaho Department of Administration, the case has cost the state $325,269.46 as of Friday. This includes litigation, attorney fees and all other expenses.
The gender-confirming surgery Edmo is suing for can cost between $20,000 and $30,000.
Edmo originally sued the state in 2017, saying its refusal to allow her to have gender confirmation surgery amounted to cruel and unusual punishment because she has gender dysphoria. The condition occurs when the distress of being in a body that does not match a person’s gender identity is so severe it impairs their ability to function.
She is serving a 10-year prison sentence for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy when she was 22, and is set to be released in 2021. Edmo is not eligible for parole.