A federal inmate who has been incarcerated since 1994, which includes his entire adult life, has been awarded an order from a judge that will make him the first U.S. transgender inmate to undergo sex-change surgery. Of course, he will enjoy the medical treatment at no cost to him, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
The prisoner, who refers to himself now as “Cristina Iglesias,” was first imprisoned for making death threats against federal judges. He later pleaded guilty in 2005 to sending fake anthrax through the U.S. mail to American allies in the War on Terror.
The American Civil Liberties Union took up Iglesias’ cause in 2020, claiming that even violent criminals deserve fulfillment of their “transgender rights.” U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel agreed in an order entered last month, writing that “Iglesias suffers daily and is at risk of self-mutilation and suicide.”
Iglesias is now 47 and is scheduled to be released from prison in December. He wants the surgery before he gets out and the judge has told the Bureau of Prisons they must now find a surgeon to make it happen on Iglesias’ schedule.
The Biden administration has already had the Department of Justice amend the policy to require prison officials to use inmates’ preferred names and gender pronouns. Inmates are also required to be placed in prisons that match their “lived gender.”
Prison records indicate that Iglesias is a white person, although he has used Hispanic names since 2004.
The Bureau of Prisons allowed the inmate to begin hormone therapy in 2015. He has also been provided laser removal of his facial hair and has requested transfer to a female prison.
The ACLU has been joined by a powerful Chicago law firm in providing legal services to Iglesias for free. The lawyers argued that the Bureau of Prison’s “deliberate indifference” to Iglesias’ medical demands amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment. They also alleged in court filings that his “genitalia feel like an abnormal and life-threatening growth” in the nature of a “malignant tumor.”
Biden’s Bureau of Prisons argued that it did not materially oppose the surgery request, but wanted the inmate to spend a full year in an assumed female gender role inside a female prison before receiving surgery.
The judge ruled that the bureau had violated Iglesias’ constitutional rights. She ruled that the prison administration should have made a particularly individualized ruling in his case rather than applying blanket rules.
Judge Rosenstengel was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois by Barack Obama in 2013.