Preparations for an Idaho inmate’s gender confirmation surgery are moving forward this week.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered the state of Idaho to provide pre-surgical treatment for transgender inmate Adree Edmo — specifically, hair removal treatment.
In a landmark win last August, Edmo successfully argued that denying her gender confirmation surgery is cruel and unusual punishment before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But the state petitioned to have the case re-heard, and has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the case. Idaho Gov. Brad Little has vowed to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. The clock is now ticking for Edmo — the surgery requires months of pre-treatment, and her release date is scheduled for mid 2021.
Edmo suffers from gender dysphoria. That’s when someone’s gender identity doesn’t match their physical anatomy, and it can cause debilitating distress. Edmo twice tried to castrate herself in prison with a razor. She says this was due to the distress from her gender dysphoria. One treatment for this diagnosis is gender confirmation surgery, and both the lower court in Idaho and the 9th Circuit agreed that that’s necessary for Edmo. When and if the surgery happens, Edmo will be the first transgender inmate in the nation to get gender confirmation surgery through a court order.
Judge Winmill ordered preparations for surgery to move forward, while litigation continues. The Idaho Department of Correction and Corizon, the state’s private health care provider, filed motions with the court reasserting their position that that level of treatment is not necessary.
“Defendants have contended all along that no surgery is medical [sic] necessary and such issues are still on appeal,” they wrote, in a brief filed November 16.
The state and Corizon also said that the court’s order did not dictate exactly which gender confirmation surgery Edmo should receive, and that some procedures require hair removal, while others don’t. So the defendants argued that while their petition is still undecided, they shouldn’t have to provide those presurgical treatments.
Edmo’s lawyer Lori Rifkin says the state is simply stalling.
“They have continued to file brief after brief and motion and motion in order to do everything they can to delay, and avoid providing her with the treatment,” Rifkin said.
Dr. Geoffrey Stiller, the state’s chosen surgeon for Edmo’s treatment, asserts that the most appropriate surgery for Edmo is a vaginoplasty, which does require presurgical treatment.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office and the Idaho Department of Correction declined to comment for this story, because of the pending litigation.
Edmo is incarcerated for sexual abuse of a 15-year-old when she was 22. She is currently held in an all-male prison facility and, according to IDOC, would be transferred to a women’s prison after surgery.
Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.
Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.