VACAVILLE (CBS 5) – The family of a California murder victim is outraged that the state could be forced to pay thousands for sexual reassignment surgery for their mother’s killer.

Ronshonda Renee and her sister Staci McWilliams thought they’d put the murder of their mother behind them when her murderer, Lyralisa Stevens, was put behind bars.

But a headline CBS 5 first brought you in April resurrected their outrage.

“I’m like, ‘Lyralisa Stevens, that’s him!’” recalled McWilliams.

Lyralisa Stevens, 42, was born a man but lives as a woman.

Stevens first gained headlines when she used a shotgun to murder Bonnie Lynn Lewis in a San Bernardino motel 11-years-ago, over a $400 dollar clothing debt. She is now serving 50 years-to-life for the crime.

Stevens has returned to the spotlight now that she has asked the Court of Appeals to mandate that the state spend between $15,000 and $50,000 for sex reassignment surgery.

The surgery would allow Stevens to be transferred to a women’s prison. She has argued that she entered prison with silicon hips and breasts, and at 5 foot 6 inches tall, and weighing 115 pounds, she’s under constant threat of sexual or physical abuse among male inmates.

That request doesn’t sit well with Lewis’ family.

“I just feel that it was totally wrong for you to take someone’s mom away from them and then still turn around and want special privileges. I feel that whatever you are getting, you deserve it,” said McWilliams.

What Lyralisa Stevens has been getting behind bars is at the heart of this case. The State of California has been spending more than $1,000 a-year on estrogen hormone treatment for Stevens. In all, some 300 inmates receive the treatment at taxpayer expense.

State-funded female hormone treatment may seem hard to believe in the current budget climate, but those who’ve treated transgendered inmates told CBS 5 that so-called Gender Identity Disorder is not a psychological condition, it’s a physical condition – and hormone treatment is a medical mandate.

“Yes I would say it’s medically necessary in the same way breast reconstruction might be medically necessary for a woman who had a mastectomy,” said Dr. Cecily Cosby, a professor at Samuel Merritt University.

Dr. Cosby treated more than 400 transgendered inmates and believes the state has created this contradiction.

“It seems difficult to say, ‘well, we’ll allow you to transition up to a certain point, but after that point it’s no longer considered medically necessary,’” she said.

In fact, we found court documents showing a doctor now on staff with the department of corrections recommended sex reassignment surgery for Stevens.

One former inmate said she was once in Steven’s shoes, and understands the necessity .

“I went to prison to pay my debt to society, not to go to prison to be raped. That shouldn’t be a part of anybody’s prison sentence,” said Faith Phillips.

Phillips described the other inmates she served time with as predators.

“They don’t give you any special consideration for your safety or anything. So it’s a big issue,” said Phillips.

She claimed the medical staff would withhold hormone injections out of spite.

“They can basically veto anything an outside doctor says. You have to fight tooth and nail,” said Phillips.

But some in the prison system think the treatments have gotten out of hand. Joe Baumann has been a prison guard for more than 25 years. He said the transgendered are using prisons as hormone dispensaries.

“I think that is ludicrous, particularly the amount of money it’s going to cost the taxpayers to do gender reassignment surgery,” said Baumann. “We have had issues over the years with people who were very vocal about the fact that they violated intentionally to come back to get medical treatment.”

The state declined an on camera interview, but in court documents, officials argued Steven’s care is “adequate” and meets constitutional standards, making sex reassignment un-necessary.

Bonnie Lynn Lewis’ children couldn’t agree more.

“You want the tax payers to pay? For you to use our hard earned money to pay for you to have surgery after you committed a murder? I don’t think so,” said Ronshonda Renee.

The case is now in the hands of a state appeals court. A decision is expected shortly.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (27)
  1. genomega1 says:

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

  2. Paul Anderson says:

    Total BS…

  3. tn says:

    After the lawyers try to get us taxpayers to foot this bill for his/her sex change, he/she will petition for freedom saying that the murderer was “another” person and that he/she has legally, physically, mentally and sexually changed. Next thing you’ll know, women inmates will want breast enhancements and male immates will want……. you get the picture. Isn’t free room/board, heating, 3 meals per day, medical, dental and cable enough?

  4. Tours Martel says:

    And we continue to license these so-called “doctors”? As long as we continue to re-elect the same empty headed majority to the California State Legislature, this sort of thing will happen.

  5. the donger says:

    is it so shocking that there is rape in prison ? News Bulletin to all criminals either male or female, gender confused, or gender reassignment wishing……
    There is rape in prison !!!!
    Don’t commit the crime if you don’t wanna do the time. I once heard someone went into prison a man and came out a dinosaur. i think they called him Megasoreass….

  6. Not my money says:

    Why should the taxpayers foot the bill for this sex change? He/she should have had it done on his/her own. She’s(?) being picked on, tough. That’s prison not a party.

  7. The End says:

    Just shoot the creep and put it out of it’s misery.

  8. Babak Rezai says:

    I for one do not want my tax money spent on anything like that at all, you got your hips and breasts with your own money and there is no life preserving need for the sex change. The state better refuse.

  9. Leo M. Mara says:

    We have a case of the fox watching the chickens here. The very doctors who’s livelihood is provided by state get to decided what course of action to take in these situations. WRONG!

    If someone in prison needs any medical assistance let them or their families pay for it.

    The relatives of the people who were wronged are the ‘society’ we should care about.

  10. JaneQPublic says:

    There are far too many honest, law-abiding taxpayers who are now laid off, unemployed, have lost their homes, can’t afford or get ANY health care and it is a gross miscarriage of any justice that they should be furthered strangled economically to pay for a murderer’s sex reassignment.

    This person L. Stevens does NOT need sex reassignment as a MEDICAL necessity. The argument is that s/he wants reassignment to keep from being raped. So it is a matter of SAFETY, not medical need. SOLUTION: Put this murderer in solitary confinement. No rape – certainly and no surgery at taxpayer expense.

    1. Diane Matcheck says:

      Well said. What a travesty. And the analogy of breast cancer reconstructive surgery as a medical necessity also doesn’t hold any water. It’s NOT a medical necessity. It’s done for psychological well-being. A murderer’s psychological well-being doesn’t matter. Prisoners should not receive any medical care beyond the basics–that is more than any of us law-abiding citizens are getting for free.

  11. A. Erickson says:

    This is not an isolated case. At the California Medical Facility in Vacaville there are many inmates getting the hormone therapy and one condemned inmate awaiting sex reassignment surgery. It’s a real shame that our tax dollars are being wasted on such things. The problem falls to the court system that allows these inmate’s attorneys to file suit against the California Department of Corrections forcing the department to provide the treatment. But nothing will change as long as the bleeding hearts contol the purse strings.

  12. Roxy Jimenez says:

    HUMMM… I thought California was broke… why waste the time and money on this piece of S..T! Let that jerk be raped.. in a sence he raped the daughter out of never having a chance to see their mother…. let him rot

  13. Alison E says:

    And we wonder why California is so broke! Oh please “medically neccessary” BS! You decide to MURDER someone and then expect hormone treatments and a sex change? What makes you think you wont get rapped in a womens prison?

  14. Alison E says:

    And we wonder why California is so broke! Oh please “medically neccessary” BS! You decide to MURDER someone and then expect hormone treatments and a sex change? What makes you think you wont get rapped in a womens prison? Iam OUTRAGED and if they let this go thru Ill be at that drs office or hospital letting EVERYONE who walks thru the doors that a MURDERER is getting a sex change at OUR expense!

  15. tn says:

    Just one word: Attorneys…

  16. nugy says:

    what more can you do california to get more bankrupt.the country is laughing at you

  17. krissy says:


    BE VERY ASHAMED, CA!!!!! i’m embarrassed to live here.

  18. K says:

    Everyone, please! This person deserves to have her true sex brought up to the surface… you just don’t transfer “it” to a womens facility after you lob off his wang. 🙂 oh and throw some nice, big ol breasts on it so Bubba, It’s cellmate, has something nice to sleep on after plowing that field.