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.

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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.”

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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.

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