A woman has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the state failed to provide adequate medical care because it won’t perform a sex-change operation. Ophelia De’lonta, 50, says she needs the surgery to treat her gender identity disorder.
Months after a botched castration attempt, a Virginia inmate wishing to be a woman has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the state failed to provide adequate medical care because it won’t perform a sex-change operation.
Ophelia De’lonta, 50, says she needs the surgery to treat her gender identity disorder, a condition in which people believe they were born the wrong gender.
“This is not something that I have any control over,” said De’lonta, who was born Michael Stokes. “This is just how I was born.”
De’lonta, who developed breasts with the use of hormones won under a 2004 court order, has tried self-surgery several times in the past. Her urges had been kept in check in recent years with the help of hormones and other treatments.
But De’lonta, who has perfectly plucked eyebrows and wears make-up, snapped on Oct. 8 when a jail guard at the all-male Buckingham Correctional Center referred to her as “he.”
“I screamed ‘She, dammit!’ becoming so overwhelmed it was hard to breathe,” said De’lonta, who was sentenced at age 18 to more than 70 years in prison on robbery, drugs and weapons charges.
After crying herself to sleep, De’lonta papered over her cell door’s window and covered the toilet with towels.
Then, using the knowledge she gained from mail-order anatomy books, De’lonta spent three hours trying to cut off what she refers to as “that thing” between her legs.
She eventually passed out – and 21 stitches were needed to repair the damage.
“It’s like if this doesn’t exist, then I won’t have any more problems,” De’lonta told the Associated Press.
De’lonta is facing long odds.
Inmates in five states – Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Idaho – also have sued in a bid to force prison doctors to perform the surgery, but four have been struck down. A decision in the Massachusetts case is pending.
Republican Virginia Del. Todd Gilbert said he would propose state legislation if De’lonta’s suit is successful.
“The notion that taxpayers are going to fund a sex change is just ridiculous,” Gilbert told the Associated Press.
De’lonta said that if her bid is unsuccessful, she’s likely to try self-surgery yet again – even though it could kill her.
“That’s a possibility,” De’lonta said. “But at the end I would have peace.”