California inmate first to have state-funded gender confirmation surgery

Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

Shiloh Heavenly Quine, a California state prisoner who was convicted of murder, became the first U.S. inmate to receive state-funded gender confirmation surgery, the Associated Press reported. 

In August 2015, California prison officials agreed to pay for Quine's surgery. Her case has opened the door for other transgender inmates to apply to get the same procedure. 

"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," Kris Hayashi told the Associated Press. Hayashi is executive director of the Oakland, California-based Transgender Law Center, which represents Quine. 

Shiloh Heavenly Quine
Source: 
The Women of San Quentin/SFINX/Kris Lyseggen

Hayashi also called the settlement and surgery a victory "for all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care we need." 

The cost of the procedure, including medication before and after is unclear. Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for California's prison medical care, told the AP the cost could approach $100,000; the Transgender Law Center said to the AP that the amount is exaggerated. 

Following her surgery, the 57-year-old Quine will be moved to a women's prison, according to her attorneys, the AP reported.

In February 1980, Quine and an accomplice kidnapped and shot 33-year-old Shahid Ali Baig in Los Angeles. The Associated Press wrote Quine was "convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom and has no possibility of parole." Baig's daughter, Farida Baig, told the Associated Press she was not happy to hear Quine will be getting her surgery with taxpayer money. 

"My dad begged for his life," said Farida Baig, who tried unsuccessfully to block Quine's surgery through the courts. "It just made me dizzy and sick. I'm helping pay for [the] surgery; I live in California. It's kind of like a slap in the face."

According to the AP, Quine told a prison psychologist that the operation would bring her a "drastic, internal completeness" and would help bring an end to her depression. Quine has attempted to cut and hang herself in prison five times, once in 2014 after being denied her operation. She also attempted to cut off her own genitalia at least three times, including once at 19 when she was self-medicating with female hormones she purchased illegally. 

Jan. 9, 2017, 4:45 p.m.: This story has been updated. 

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Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew Rodriguez is a Staff Writer at Mic. He is a queer Latino New Yorker who enjoys female rappers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Flannery O'Connor. He is a former editor at TheBody.com and he is working on a memoir.

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