BOISE, Idaho (CBS 2) — An attorney representing a transgender inmate who a federal judge ruled in favor of receiving gender reassignment told CBS 2 News that her client is at risk of self-harm if the surgery is postponed.
The state of Idaho, at this point, has been put on a court-ordered deadline to pay for inmate Adree Edmo's surgery by mid-June.
Judge B. Lynn Winmill handed down the ruling in Idaho's U.S. District Court on Dec. 13.
Most recently, however, the state has appealed the decision. The Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) filed the notice on Jan. 9.
"The hard-working taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a prisoner's gender reassignment surgery," Republican Gov. Brad Little said in a statement.
Deborah Ferguson, an attorney representing 31-year-old Adree Edmo, claims that the state refusing to provide surgery for her client is unconstitutional — amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
"They certainly would treat a prisoner with cancer, they treat a prisoner with diabetes, or other chronic conditions," said Ferguson. "So, we have a medically recognized condition that's very treatable and we ave been trying to get her the treatment that she very much needs."
Edmo was diagnosed with gender dysphoria back in 2012 by a prison psychiatrist.
Born as Mason Edmo, Adree was raised just north of Pocatello at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Edmo wrote in her original civil rights complaint against the IDOC in 2017 that "she lived full-time as a woman, dressing in women’s clothes and wearing women’s cosmetics" long before her prison sentence.
Edmo was sentenced to prison in 2012 for sexual abuse of a child under 16 in Bannock County. She is expected to be released from prison in 2021.
The surgery, according to Edmo's attorney, is something that cannot wait any longer.
"She is really suffering without the treatment," said Ferguson. "This is has gone on and she has not been treated adequately. Not for over five years. So, we are very worried about acts of self-harm and certainly don't want to see that happen. Especially, when we have a condition that is recognized as a medical condition and is very treatable."
Edmo is currently being housed in the men's prison — something that would have to be reconsidered if the surgery is performed.
Currently, the deadline is still in place. However, the appeal of the decision now goes on to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to be revisited.
Edmo's attorney said she expected the decision to be accelerated given the timeline and for a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court to come in about a month or two.
There are currently 30 inmates in Idaho with gender dysphoria, according to the ruling.
"The court made very clear in its opinion that this in no way is indicating that everyone with gender dysphoria who is incarcerated would be entitled to surgery," said Ferguson. "But, we have a very severe case here. To keep Ms. Edmo out of harm’s way for her basic dignity and health, this is something that she very much needs."
Corizon, the private company that handles medical care for inmates in Idaho and 21 other states, has never provided gender reassignment surgery at any of its facilities in the United States.
If the case prevails, Edmo would be the first in Idaho to get the procedure while in state custody and only the second inmate in the nation to receive the surgery.