Vacaville Inmate Sues State For Sex Change Surgery

VACAVILLE (CBS 5) — A transsexual inmate at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville has sued the State of California to pay for surgery to complete his transition to becoming a woman.

Lyralisa Stevens was born as a male, but for years has received estrogen therapy in the process to become female. Stevens was convicted in 2002 for murdering a woman in San Bernardino over a $400 clothing debt.

A document obtained by CBS 5 finds the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation denying surgery to Stevens in 2007, saying “…sexual reassignment surgery is not a covered benefit …”

Stevens sued the state. In 2008, Stevens wrote the court saying, “I believe I am entitled to this relief because it is vital to the due process of my rehabilitation.”

The rehabilitation Stevens refers to is a brain tumor that had to be surgically removed. A prison doctor believed the tumor was connected to a high dose of estrogen. The doctor reduced the amount of hormone Stevens was receiving, but said in a statement the “…current dose …appears to be inadequate to accomplish and maintain feminization, quality of life.”

Stevens’ lawsuit argues the surgery is medically necessary and is asking the state to pay for gender reassignment surgery.

“The order would also allow me to conclude the pre-operative stage of the transgendered hormone therapy, to become the surgically cured female that I should be,” Stevens said in a statement to the court.

Despite starting without an attorney, Stevens’ case has made it to a federal appeals court. Local attorneys have since picked up the case.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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