May 21, 2015 – Today, Transgender Law Center and Michelle Norsworthy celebrated the outcome of a hearing that found Michelle suitable for parole, pending review by the Governor. Typically, a person who receives parole is released within five to six months of the parole board’s decision. The Ninth Circuit also today granted the state’s request for a stay of Judge Tigar’s order requiring CDCR to provide Michelle the medical care she needs, and set a hearing for the week of August 10.
“We are thrilled that Michelle’s parole hearing was successful, and that she might soon be able to live her life freely as a woman,” said Ilona Turner, Legal Director of Transgender Law Center, which is representing Michelle in her case for transition-related care along with pro-bono co-counsel from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.
“Being housed with men, sexually assaulted, and denied critical health care these past thirty years, Michelle has suffered greatly in prison and continues to suffer every day she is denied the surgery she desperately needs,” Turner added. “Whether you’re transgender or not, everyone should find it troubling that the state is trying to further delay the care that all the evidence showed is critical for Michelle’s health. We are disappointed that the stay was granted, as delays like this cause Michelle serious harm every single day. Still, we are delighted by the possibility of parole for Michelle and are confident that she will find support networks and services upon release, including access to gender-affirming surgery through Medi-Cal should the California Department of Corrections fail to provide her the care that the court and her medical providers have concluded she urgently needs.”
On April 2nd, 2015, Michelle won a preliminary injunction ordering the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to provide her with adequate medical care, including gender-affirming surgery. The prison had denied this care, even though her treating psychologist had repeatedly concluded that it was medically necessary to treat her gender dysphoria. The state is currently appealing that decision.