A convicted killer serving life in prison in California just became the first inmate in the United States to receive gender reassignment surgery, fully financed by taxpayers.
Shiloh Heavenly Quine, 57, is in prison for first-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery for ransom, with absolutely no possibility of parole.
California prison officials approved the decision to allow Quine to have the gender reassignment surgery in August of 2015.
Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which represents Quine and other transgender inmates, said, “For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who we are. The surgery fulfills a landmark legal settlement and is a victory for all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care we need.”
California was legally required to pay for the operation, according to corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.
Thorton said in a written statement, “The Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution requires that prisons provide inmates with medically necessary treatment for medical and mental health conditions, including inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria.”
Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed official in control of California’s prison medical care, said, “The cost of sex-reassignment surgeries could approach $100,000, including procedures and medications before and after the operation.”
Hayhoe also stated, “A portion of the state’s expense will generally be reimbursed by the federal government, sometimes up to 95 percent.”
Since California has approved its new policy, prison officials have received 64 other inmate requests for sex-reassignment surgeries; four have already been approved.
The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 3,200 transgender inmates are housed in prison and jail systems throughout the United States.
For convicted killer Quine, the operation is something she has wanted for years.
She states in court documents that she has considered herself a female since age nine. But, she was raised in the 1970s to be “a real man” and went on to marry and divorce two women and father two daughters.
Quine told a prison psychologist who recommended her for the operation that it would bring a “drastic, internal completeness.”
Inmate Quine wrote that “her” presence in the men’s prison creates “confusion and mixed emotions from the males that go from romantic thoughts to disgust and explosive turmoil reactions.”
Quine will be moved to a women’s prison facility following the operation, which was performed at a hospital in San Francisco, according to Quine’s attorneys.
Farida Baig, the daughter of the man murdered by Quine, feels differently about this event and tried unsuccessfully to block the surgery in the courts.
Baig objects to inmates getting taxpayer-funded surgeries that are not readily available to non-criminals.
Said Baig, “My dad begged for his life.”
She added, “It just made me dizzy and sick. I’m helping pay for his surgery; I live in California. It’s kind of like a slap in the face.”
In February of 1980, Quine and a friend kidnapped Farida’s father, Shahid Ali Baig, then killed the 33-year-old father of three in downtown Los Angeles. The two men, drunk and high on drugs at the time, then stole $80 and her father’s car.
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