Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is sex reassignment surgery medically necessary enough to force the public to pay for prisoners to have it?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) September 5th, 2012

A Federal judge ordered that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has to provide such surgery for a murderer. It is cruel and unusual punishment not to treat the prisoner’s gender identity disorder with surgery.

Is gender reassignment medically necessary? Is gender identity disorder real? Are prisoners entitled to this treatment, especially when so many prisoners don’t get treated for far easier-to-treat and more deadly conditions? Should the government have to pay for this surgery since the prisoner is in governmental custody?

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44 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Gender nonconformity is not a disorder. Being transgendered or transsexual is real. It is not a disease or illness.

Are prisoners entitled to gender reassignment surgery? I don’t know. I am not familiar with the laws of Massachusetts, so I cannot comment on the judge’s decision.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Perhaps pyschologically necessary in some cases from what I’ve heard.

I stated in another forum that until pedophiles are all offered voluntary castration before being released, I would never condone any other non-emergency surgery for prisoners.

Shippy's avatar

I believe being trans-gendered is real. Do I think prisoners deserve this? No, because they gave a lot of people things they didn’t deserve. So they have lost their rights and even their identity as far as I am concerned.

poisonedantidote's avatar

“I had my dick and balls turned in to a vagina with prison surgery”...

…Is something no one should ever have to or want to say.

bluejay's avatar

Let the prisoners suffer.
Why should tax payers have to pay for it?
This country reminds me of a young parent who has a toddler, and can’t control him/her. They are allowed whatever because they “need” .... when in all actuality they just want it and the parent is afraid of protest upon the kid not getting it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Just a small note:

Not all prisoners are killers and pedophiles. Some are innocent, some are in there for totally non violent crime, and privatized prison systems have a high incentive to make people go to prison.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Is it real? From what I’ve read, I believe it is real. Is gender reassignment medically necessary? That probably varies case to case and I don’t have enough background with it to be able to say generally one way or the other. If I had to guess I’d say no based on the thought that there are likely other recognized ways to address the issue but that’s hardly a firm or researched position. Should the government pay? If it’s deemed medically necessary with the case in question, under the law as it stands, yes, to not provide it would be cruel and unusual punishment as the judge ruled.

Now wether I agree with how cruel and unusual punishment is currently defined, that’s a different matter altogether.

Oh, and somewhere in there may be an issue as to the prisoners existing assets, if any, and whether or not they can be liquidated to provide financing.

bluejay's avatar

@poisonedantidote Pedophiles and killers are there for a lot longer, and sometimes for life. I think that is why people keep referring to them. As for non violent criminals they’ll be out of prison soon, and can get the surgery at their own expense.

Kayak8's avatar

I think the bigger challenge is maintaining her, safely, in an all male institution following surgery . . .

Bellatrix's avatar

I believe the need for gender realignment is real and necessary. Should the state pay for it? I don’t know. However, not paying for it raises a whole host of broader questions.

I think @Kayak8 makes an excellent point. After the surgery takes place, will the state be prepared to move the person to the opposite prison system? To do the surgery and leave the person in the same place would be horrific.

bookish1's avatar

Hey! Guess what! People who are not trans have no say on whether being trans is real.

Once again, this is a case of accepting that the world is a big place and there are people out there who have life experiences that you don’t have and will never have. Some people are able to accept this, even if they can’t personally understand those life experiences…

Why cis people love speculating about trans people’s genital configurations so much is really beyond me…

josie's avatar

Put the issue up for a referendum vote and see what happens. Anybody want to guess the outcome?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Gender identity disorder is very real. Should the state pay for prisoners to receive the surgery? Hell no.

I can’t afford my own medical procedures that need to be done. Don’t tell me it’s some prisoner’s right to have this surgery done on my dollar.

Sunny2's avatar

Sex reassignment is a lengthy process. If the prisoner is done except for the surgery and the state has her in a men’s prison, I guess they ought to pay for the end of the process or else let the prisoner go. If you were in a long term curative process for a bone structure correction and were imprisoned, the state should pay for the process while the you are in prison. I think we should, any how.

elbanditoroso's avatar

That’s not really the question, @wundayatta . Whether it’s medically necessary or not is a complete side issue. it’s being hijacked for political purposes.

The REAL issue is that the person sued the prison system. It went through the court system. The guy won.

So either you respect the authority of the court or you don’t. I think it is FAR MORE DANGEROUS for America if we decide only to obey the court decisions we happen to like, than if we pay for some guy’s operation.

Either we live in a society of laws or we don’t. That’s the issue. Anything else is populist bullshit.

Mariah's avatar

I have no doubts whatsoever that transgenderism is real. I think it’s comparable to many psychological disorders in terms of its medical necessity because untreated it can lead to very severe depression.

I don’t think it, or other procedures, should be covered any more for prisoners than it is for anyone else. This is because I can imagine scenarios where people purposefully commit crimes to get put into prison so that they can get medical treatment they need. In fact, I think I remember a case where that happened.

Granted, I believe in universal health care, so I think everyone should get help paying for their medical procedures.

And I also think a lot of people who are in jail don’t deserve to be (marijuana crimes come to mind), so it’s hard for me to just go ahead and say “fuck criminals and their medical needs.”

Neizvestnaya's avatar

For my two cents, a murderer in prison doesn’t warrant any exceptional tax payer care than what we can give to non murderers.

woodcutter's avatar

The convict just wants to be transferred to a different kind of prison. I could support myself better if I had a surgery or two and from my POV that is cruel punishment because I can’t afford it because I need the surgical repairs in order to afford it..

have not killed anyone…ever.

jca's avatar

Of course the prison has no choice but to obey the court order. However, in my opinion this is ridiculous bullshit. I can see paying for life saving surgery such as if someone has heart failure or needs a tumor removed, or something like that. I can even see dental work, as people need their teeth taken care of. I can’t see this, though. I can envision people committing crimes now not to get their 3 hots and a cot, but to get their free gender reassignment surgery.

DrBill's avatar

Prisoners should get only medically necessary treatment, if he/she wants reassignment, they can pay for it themselves, just like non-criminals do.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I think I agree with @WillWorkForChocolate and @DrBill although there are still a few grey areas for me. I have no doubt in my mind that gender identity disorder is real, that’s not in question at all but if the prisoner has done something to warrant a life sentence (and so will not be out any time soon and able to pay for their pown surgery) then I question what “rights” they should have especially as there are so many trans people who are law abiding citizens who cannot afford their own surgery. Why should a criminal have more rights than a law abider? In the UK I believe a sex change can be available on the NHS so I am referring to countries that don’t have this kind of service.

wundayatta's avatar

@DrBill The court ruling says the treatment is medically necessary. As in, this is a woman living in a man’s body, and if she doesn’t get her body sorted out, she might kill herself. Or maybe is likely to kill herself. At the very least, she will be living in torture for as long as she is in the wrong body.

Imagine if you had a body that had the opposite reactions it should. Like every time you were with a woman you liked, your cock shriveled and crawled up inside your body and made you feel a very unpleasant feeling. Wouldn’t that be torture for you? Wouldn’t you want that fixed? What if you were in a prison with female guards? All day surrounded by women who made you feel like hell, not because of anything they did, why because your body responded that way.

Isn’t that torture by the state to force you to be subjected to that? Would you want the state to pay the bills to give you the treatment you need?

tacres's avatar

I have no doubt that gender disorder is real. A birth defect by any other name. However it is not life threatening. I have lots of things I would like to have changed too but not at the taxpayers expense. What’s next? My nose is too big , I need part of it sawed off? Give me a break. On the outside it is I believe elective surgery ,it shouldn’t be any different for the scofflaws than any law-abiding citizen

wundayatta's avatar

Let me make the argument that this gender disorder is life threatening. Other mental illnesses are life threatening. One fifth of people with bipolar disorder die by their own hand.

I don’t see why some like being in the wrong gender body wouldn’t cause enough depression to make you ready to die. It must be extremely painful. Probably more painful than even ordinary chronic clinical depression. With depression, even though change seems impossible, at least you don’t need an operation for your change. If you need an operation and you are in prison, it seems to me the situation would be even more hopeless.

If we take clinical depression as a serious issue (and many don’t—I understand that), then it seems to me it should be easy to see this gender disorder as equally life threatening and therefore that gender reassignment surgery is medically necessary in order to prevent suicide. I take clinical depression seriously now. I didn’t used to. But when I experienced it myself, I discovered I had no idea how bad it could possibly be. That’s why I do believe that gender disorders could be equally bad.

tacres's avatar

@wundayatta oh I take it seriously . I have family members who suffer from mental illnesses. I just don’t think that we should use resources we don’t have for people who didn’t get their butts in jail on those persons who are incarcerated. If the surgery was that important get a job, save your money, don’t be a criminal. I am just worn out by the total lack of motivation by people who think the rest of us need to make their life full of joybells.

DrBill's avatar

@wundayatta
Public aid pays for all necessary medical treatments, but it will not pay for sexual reassignment.
Why should the taxpayers pay for a criminal, and not an honest person?

augustlan's avatar

Of course it’s a real thing (I know that you know that.) I don’t think it’s so cut and dried to decide whether public funds should be used for this purpose.

On the one hand, it’s ‘elective’ surgery, and a lot of law-abiding people who want it can’t afford it. On the other hand, we’re essentially keeping a woman incarcerated in a mens prison. Aside from the mental anguish that must bring her, she is probably at increased risk of danger from the other prisoners. One could argue that that constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The courts have decided in her favor, and I’m willing to assume they took all factors into consideration before doing so.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have to agree with some of the posters above that being a criminal in our prison system means you forfeit your rights because of your criminal behavior. If it’s going to be some kind of reward for bad behavior, let’s let the prisoners go to the nursing homes and all our elderly go to the prisons, where the standards seem to be much higher. What a shame in our country.

I’m very familiar with mental illness, too, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@wundayatta I agree that this condition can be life threatening which is why I don’t have a cut and dry opinion on this. I don’t want to see anyone, criminal or otherwise kill themselves, however I feel it would be wrong that criminals would get this kind of treatment paid for by the state over hard working, law abiders. It’s rewarding the wrong behaviour.

woodcutter's avatar

Well, it is “Taxachusetts” after all. Not many other places that would even consider this.
It’s just more extreme left wing BS that worries about a murderer killing themselves. A murderer? I’d be the first one to sneak him a razor into his cell, go for it dude, It’d be one problem taking care of itself.

Shit now I know why people from Mass. are assholes, if my paycheck was being pilfered to pay for shit like this I’d be more of an asshole too.

wundayatta's avatar

@woodcutter I’m sure there are a lot of people around the world you would call assholes over issues like these. In the Scandinavian countries, this wouldn’t be an issue. They’d offer the health care the prisoner needed, even for sex change operations. Hell. That guy in Denmark or wherever that killed seventy something kids could only get a maximum prison sentence of 22 years, I think it was. He’d only get longer if he was insane.

The US is something like one-twentieth of the population of the world, or thereabouts. When hundreds of millions of people take a view of kindness towards prisoners and criminals in other nations in the world—primarily in Europe—do you think they are all assholes? Because they are kinder than you are? Because they have a more nuanced understanding of human behavior than you have and thus disagree with you, you call them assholes, like you are right and no question?

There’s no need to call names. You can be sympathetic to the folks in Massachusetts. You can decry their tax burden, but it seems to me you should ask them first how much this really bothers them. And even then, it seems to me that knowing that millions of people in the world share the more kind view would make you think twice about calling them assholes. Those countries seem to do a lot better job a lot of things when compared to the US.

woodcutter's avatar

I don’t give a sweet fuck about killers, period. That crosses the line no matter which country. I fully expect Europe to coddle their prisoners thats what they do.

Have you met anyone from Massachusetts? I used to live in the state above them so I can tell ya Labor day was better than Christmas up there.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@wundayatta Whilst I think even the worst kind of murderer should have the right to food, water, basic health care and sanitary living conditions I don’t think we should have to go above and beyond or them with tax payers money. I think we should be humane but not kind. 25 years for someone who killed so many people with a sane state of mind is fucking ludicrous if you ask me and certainly not kind for society.

downtide's avatar

As a transsexual myself, I can verify that transition is psychologically and socially necessary for a normal life. In many cases (myself included) transition is the only way to avoid suicide. But a murderer in prison? I think that’s going too far. A prisoner isn’t leading a normal life anyway, and presumably if they are suicidal they would be on suicide watch.

My suspicion is the reason it’s allowed is that the treatment is cheaper than keeping someone on suicide watch indefinitely, and the cost of the lawsuit that would follow if the transsexual person did actually manage to commit suicide in prison.

tacres's avatar

@woodcutter You are wrong.people from Massachusetts are MASSHOLES. Get it it right would ya. ( I know I married one, gave birth to two, & escaped the state to Canada!!!! ) I do feel the same way seriously although there are some good ones but they are rare.Good comment though!!!!

wundayatta's avatar

Well as a person who was able to proudly use the bumper sticker, “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts,” I feel I am well informed about what it is like to be from that state. It’s the place that played a huge role in forming my political ideas.

They’ve had their struggles in more recent years, since I left. Somehow, they managed to elect this warped politician named Romney as Governor, and he was able to keep the state from going for single payer health care reform, which could well have happened under a Democratic governor.

I’m a believer in Massachusetts liberalism.

However, in the case of this prisoner, it is a Federal judge who is making the decision. This is not actually a state thing.

That’s irrelevant to me, though, since I’m more interested in what my fellow jellies think about this, regardless of ideology. So with @downtide voices opposition, I find that quite telling.

I’m not generally in favor of being nice to murderers, although I don’t think we should be cruel, either. However, my position on health care is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Giving this person her operation may actually cost the Commonwealth less than what they will have to pay for treatments of a depressed and suicidal prisoner who may act out in a violent way, killing a fellow prisoner, if left untreated.

woodcutter's avatar

@tacres Yup that was the name they have. It’s been so long since I have visited I completely forgot that one. I remember all the grocery stores raising their prices after Memorial day and the “Massholes” still thought they were getting shit cheap.no sales tax . Good call. After Labor Day it felt good to able to come out of the house again and actually go somewhere. What is up with that?

Live free or live in Massachusetts

bluejay's avatar

Kind of off topic here, but the question has been answered so here goes. Did you all know that in Massachusetts everyone voted to ban animal traps… they were all shocked to find out that they could no longer use mouse traps.

woodcutter's avatar

So they want everyone to use poison to fix a rodent problem? That sounds even more cruel. Another good example of govt over reach.

bluejay's avatar

It wasn’t the government. It was the idiots of Massachusetts who voted for it. Oh and we have a ban on the use of poisons. The ban on traps has been lifted, but for a while no one knew what to do about the mice!!!

FutureMemory's avatar

I have to agree with @woodcutter (was that a pig flying by my window just now?) I fucking hate Boston with a passion. When I lived on the east coast it seemed like every asshole I met was from Mass.

Mariah's avatar

Funny, I go to college in Mass and it seems to me that people are friendlier here than they were back home. Except on the road, of course.

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