Norsworthy v. Beard (USA)

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Jeffrey Norsworthy began serving a life sentence within the CDCR in 1987. In 1998 or 1999, a correctional counselor transferred plaintiff to the Department of Mental Health within the California Medical Facility for a Gender Dysphoria Evaluation. The evaluation was conducted from October 1999 to January 2000, at which time, Ph.D. C.R. Viesti, a specialist in Gender/Sexual dysphorias and disorders, concluded that he is a transsexual suffering from severe Gender Identity Disorder (“GID”).  Following the diagnosis in January 2000, Norsworthy started feminizing endocrine therapy and psychotherapy. He has remained at “pre-operation dosages and intensity . . . over the last 14 years.” He has also undergone castration and “has developed and evolved into an extremely feminine, female, and womanly person in form and stature.” According to “several doctors notes and reports,” plaintiff “Presents-As-Female.”

Norsworthy seeks “Sex Reassignment Surgery (“SRS”), at state expense.” According to the guidelines set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, Inc. (“WPATH”), a transgender person must live as a female under a doctor’s care for 2 to 5 years to qualify for SRS. Norsworthy has been living as a female for 13 years, far exceeding the guidelines. Further, in November 2012, his psychotherapist of over two years, Dr. William Reese, Ph.D/MSCP, recommended SRS as a “medical necessity” in his case. (Compl. at 14.) Norsworthy asserts that SRS would finish what the CDCR and its doctors have already started and would allow him to reduce his hormone therapies and medications to safer doses. Norsworthy has used the CDCR inmate appeals process to request SRS, but has been denied.

Norsworthy filed a lawsuit for civil rights violations for the state’s failure to give him a sex change.  The court noted that “(t)he issue of whether a prison’s refusal to provide SRS to treat a prisoner’s GID constitutes deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eight Amendment has not been resolved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A case that may answer that question is now pending in … Kosilek v. Spencer.”

The court dismissed Norsworthy’s lawsuit without prejudice and, because the lawsuit “presents novel and complex legal issues,” and “given the exceptional character of this case,” the court referred the case to the Federal Pro Bono Project to find counsel for Norsworthy.

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Norsworthy v. Beard