U.Va doctor recommends surgery for transgender inmate

Ophelia De'Lonta
Ophelia De'Lonta

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A U.Va. doctor is recommending a major, surgical procedure for a Virginia inmate seeking a male-to-female, sex change operation paid for by the state.

12 On Your Side has the physician's letter and an interview with the transgender inmate.

The endocrinologist is advising prison doctors to move ahead with an orchiectomy for Ophelia De'Lonta — the surgical removal of the testicles — to complete treatment for gender identification disorder, and stop De'Lonta's self castration.

Unsure of what Virginia D.O.C. will do next, Ophelia De'Lonta is cautiously optimistic but believes the recommendation, from a doctor the state hired, solidifies her court fight for a government-funded sex change surgery.

"Refusing to provide effective treatment for a serious medical condition serves no penological purpose," said De'Lonta. "It amounts to torture. I'm being tortured because I can't receive the treatment I'm suppose to have. So, you just let me suffer."

G.I.D. patients believe they're trapped in the wrong body. Ophelia struggles with self mutilation when hormone therapy stops working. She's already cut out one testicle herself.

"The only way that's going to change if my medical situation changes. If that doesn't change, its like being choked to death and can't breathe."

Dr. Christina Gherghe writes, "The only thing I see left to complete your treatment is orchiectomy, testicle removal. I can not write this as an order. I can only suggest it to your doctors, which I did, in writing and verbally."

"God forbid that one time is too much and I end up dying. Then what are you going to say? Well, we could have done this or we should have done that. That does me no good, but perhaps it may help somebody else," said De'Lonta.

De'Lonta's lawyer filed a motion to have the letter added to the appeals court record, stating it was received after the record was closed.

They expect Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to oppose it. The state has already said sex change surgery is not the only treatment method.

"They 're wanting taxpayers to see this as cosmetic. That this is 'something she wants.' I respect and admire their intelligence but this is a serious medical situation. Now that I have that from your specialist, somebody that you hired. If you don't follow it then, you're in violation," said De'Lonta.

We'll see how the court handles the new information.

Meantime, Dr. Gherghe also wrote in that letter that it was up to prison doctors to pursue what she suggested.

She assured Ophelia De'Lonta that she would treat her in the exact same manner whether she was in prison or not.

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