Thursday marked the first court-mandated sex reassignment surgery for an incarcerated person in the United States, and the procedure took place in San Francisco. As KRON 4 reports, 57-year-old convicted murderer Shiloh Heavenly Quine received the surgery, paid for by the state of California, and will be transferred to a women's prison after she recovers.
Quine's case received wide attention when in October 2015 the California Department of Corrections established new guidelines for providing sex reassignment surgery for intmates following two parallel cases brought against the department by the SF-based Transgender Law Center. Quine's was one, and the other was that of Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, who was paroled earlier that year and had campaigned to have the state pay for her surgery.
It's a fairly extraordinary case in that it brings the double stigma of a transgender person who is also incarcerated for murder and indeed the Associated Press went with a headline that sounds more like it came from Fox News, "California murder convict becomes first U.S. inmate to have state-funded sex reassignment surgery." Quine will remain behind bars the rest of her life, without the possibility of parole, following an alcohol-fueled 1980 robbery and fatal shooting in Los Angeles for which she and an accomplice were convicted.
Farida Baig, daughter of the man whom Quine helped to murder, Shahid Ali Baig, had fought against the decision to permit Quine's surgery, telling the AP, "My dad begged for his life. It just made me dizzy and sick. I'm helping pay for his [sic] surgery; I live in California. It's kind of like a slap in the face."
But Quine has tried to kill herself in prison five separate times, and had told a prison psychologist that receiving the surgery would provide "drastic, internal completeness."
Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, gave a statement today saying, "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." He also said that the surgery marked a victory "for all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care we need."
As Quine said following the 2015 policy change that led to this week's surgery, "After so many years of almost giving up on myself, I will finally be liberated from the prison within a prison I felt trapped in, and feel whole, both as a woman and as a human being."