Transgender inmate released, still seeking surgery

Published: Jan. 31, 2014 at 8:40 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2014 at 3:58 AM EST
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DILLWYN, VA (WWBT) - Ex-convict Ophelia De'Lonta is free Friday and home with her family in Maryland.

The transgender parolee walked out of Buckingham Correctional Center around 8:45 Friday morning. Ophelia De'Lonta walked out in prison-issued clothing. She was happy and confident she will make it, on the outside. She has family support.

Diane: "Did you get any sleep last night?"

Ophelia: "No."

Diane: "What were you thinking about?"

Ophelia: "The first day not hearing the whistle, not seeing the bars."
The outspoken transgender female spent three decades in a men's prison and experienced hard times, sexual assaults, fights, but says sometimes she brought it on herself locked up as a teen.

"I was very rebellious, uneducated," said Ophelia. "You got a lot of people that come in just like I did that didn't know anything. I feel for those people. I think I want to be their voice to help, because I know what goes on in here."

In prison, she found strength and education. She now wants to teach others how to stand and fight right.
"I'm helping the next 'Ophelia,' so she doesn't have to go through the pain and heartache that I went through. Any other transgender inmate can get the appropriate medical attention that they deserve and should have while they're incarcerated."

Friday morning, her niece, nephew and oldest brother - who's a doctor - arrived right at 8:30, thankful to take her home...

"It's important, because I never thought my grandfather would actually be alive to see his youngest son come out. Wow. So, I'm real happy," said Tiffany Stokes.

...but feel she's being pushed her out without the surgery after spending half her life in prison.

"This is a health need," said Larry Stokes, Opheila's brother. "For her to fight for this, to this point, it seems like being released only because we are not going to pay for this."

The Virginia Parole Board chairman says the parole has nothing to do with the lawsuit. Ophelia figures it's cost the state more than $100,000 repairing her after her numerous self-castration attempts.

"It's a medical condition that needs treatment," said Ophelia.

Diane: "Are you going to have the surgery?"

Ophelia "Yes."

Diane: "When do yo think you might have it?"

Ophelia: "Not before long."

Her attorneys have filed papers seeking monetary damages and a motion to dispose of the case without a trial and issue a judgement in De'Lonta's favor.

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