Transgender Virginia inmate wants state to pay for sex change operation

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A transgender, Virginia inmate won't stop fighting until the state pays for her sex change surgery.

Ophelia De'Lonta was born a man and claims, because of her disorder, she has a compulsion for self castration.

The inmate first began her push for surgery and a special transgender housing unit for inmates in 2007.

Ophelia De'Lonta is appealing a district court judge's dismissal of her lawsuit requesting the state pay for the $20,000 sex change surgery.

Ophelia, born Michael Stokes, won a lawsuit several years ago that requires corrections to provide hormone treatment, psychotherapy therapy, the right to wear some female clothing, and appropriate housing, to all prisoners with gender identification disorder. People with the disorder believe they were born the wrong sex.

Ophelia now says, the treatment doesn't work, and she can not control a compulsion to cut and mutilate her genitals. She says, she needs the operation to stop.

The judge who dismissed her lawsuit says the state is adequately treating her gender identity disorder and that inmates are guaranteed only minimum care — not preferred therapies.

Ophelia is appealing and says a jury should decide what's "adequate" treatment.

Ophelia is serving 70 years for robbing three banks with an unloaded gun. She claims she was trying to get money for a sex change operation.

She's currently doing her time at Buckingham Correctional Center, and is still fighting for a special, transgender housing unit.

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