Today, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reached a groundbreaking settlement with Shiloh Quine, a transgender woman held in a men’s prison, to move her to a women’s facility and provide medical care, including gender-affirming surgery, determined necessary by several medical and mental health professionals. In the settlement, the state also agreed to change its policies so that transgender prisoners can access clothing and commissary items consistent with their gender identity. The state also affirmed that it is revising its policies regarding transgender inmates’ access to medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria, including surgery.
“This historic settlement is a tremendous victory, not just for Shiloh and transgender people in prison, but for all transgender people who have ever been denied medical care or basic recognition of our humanity just because of who we are,” said Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center, which represented Shiloh along with pro bono counsel from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. “After years of unnecessary suffering, Shiloh will finally get the care she desperately needs – and transgender people nationwide will hear a state government affirm that our identities and medical needs are as valid as anyone else’s.”
“This agreement is truly historic and unprecedented,” added Flor Bermudez, Detention Project Director at Transgender Law Center. “Ms. Quine will be the first transgender inmate in the country to receive gender-affirming surgery while incarcerated, to our knowledge. This agreement makes clear that jails and prisons can no longer deny transgender people medically necessary surgeries, clothing, or cosmetics under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”
Shiloh is represented by Transgender Law Center along with pro bono counsel from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the same legal team that is representing Michelle Norsworthy, another transgender woman currently held in a men’s prison in California. Both women’s cases have been proceeding before Judge Jon Tigar of the federal court for the Northern District of California, who ruled in April that the state must provide Michelle with gender-affirming medical care. Michelle recently won a parole hearing and received final word today that she will be released on parole as early as next week.
“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,” said Shiloh. “I’m just overwhelmed, especially knowing that this will help so many other people. I know I can never truly make amends for what I’ve done in the past, but I am committed to making myself a better person, and to helping others so they don’t have to struggle the way I have. I’m so grateful to Transgender Law Center, to my lawyers, and to CDCR. I will appreciate this from the bottom of my heart, forever.”
“We’re so happy for Shiloh, who’s been a friend of ours for many years,” said Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project. “There is so much trauma in our communities, especially for those of us in prison, and the need for this kind of medically necessary care is so great. These policy changes will go a long way toward making people feel more whole and secure in their authentic selves.”
Nine states, including California, already require private insurers to cover medical care related to gender transition, including surgeries, and public insurance programs like Medicare and California’s Medicaid system also cover this type of care.
For more information, please contact Jill Marcellus at [email protected] or 415.865.0176 ext. 310.
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. https://transgenderlawcenter.org