Supreme Court rejects inmate’s request for sex reassignment surgery

(Getty Images file photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a transgender convicted murderer’s request for special treatment, according to a Reuters report.

The inmate had claimed that denial of his request to be considered for surgery that would give him female physical attributes constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Justices refused to hear an appeal by inmate Vanessa Lynn Gibson, who had filed a civil rights lawsuit after Texas prison officials denied his request. The justices let stand a lower court’s decision to reject the claim that denying the surgery request violated the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

Gibson, 41, a transgender who also goes by the name Scott in court papers, was born male but has lived as a female since age 15. Gibson was incarcerated in 1995 for aggravated assault, then was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate in 1997. He is eligible for parole in 2021.

Court papers said Gibson was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2014. Medical experts define the condition as distress from the internal conflict between physical and preferred gender and gender identity. Gibson has suffered from severe depression, engaged in self-mutilation and attempted suicide several times, according to court papers.

Gibson was provided with hormone therapy, but Texas has no policy allowing for “irreversible surgical intervention,” according to the state.

Gibson sued in federal court claiming that by refusing to conduct a medical evaluation for gender reassignment surgery prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, a form of banned cruel and unusual punishment.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March rejected Gibson’s claim. In the decision, Judge James Ho, an appointee of President Donald Trump, said it is not cruel to deny a treatment that no other prison provides.


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