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Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2003

Inmate won’t get hormone therapy

Committee rules transsexual doesn’t meet requirements

December 18, 2003

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— An inmate who wants to undergo sexual reassignment surgery after his release from prison failed Wednesday in an effort to obtain $500,000 because the state will not continue his hormone therapy while he is behind bars.

Christopher I. Sorrels described himself as a transsexual in documents he filed with the Legislature. Now 29, he said he had been dressing as a female since he was 13 and had undergone hormone therapy for 10 years to prepare himself for surgery.

Sorrels is serving 18 months in the state prison outside El Dorado for forgery and is eligible for parole in September 2004.

But the Legislature's Special Committee on Claims Against the State rejected Sorrels' claim Wednesday. Its unanimous voice vote makes it unlikely the claim will be considered during the Legislature's 2004 session.

Lawmakers act as a forum of last resort for Kansans who have grievances against the state but cannot get relief in the courts. The committee hears dozens of claims each year from inmates, mostly over lost or stolen property.

However, the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Bonnie Huy, R-Wichita, said, "It's not the state's responsibility or a medical necessity to fund that elective surgery."

In his claim, Sorrels argued that the Department of Corrections had shown "deliberate indifference to my serious medical needs" by refusing to provide hormone therapy.

"I have continuously tried to explain my need for estrogen," he wrote in his claim.

Sorrels said in his claim that he had suffered physical discomfort, depression and mental anguish because he could not continue his therapy.

The state contends Sorrels fails to qualify for hormone therapy under guidelines set by Prison Health Services, a Brentwood, Tenn., the company that provides medical services for inmates under a contract with the Department of Corrections.

Those guidelines require an inmate to have seen a licensed psychiatrist with an expertise in gender disorders for at least 12 sessions and to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery.

Sorrels, who also has used the names Christina, Kristy and Misty, said he received silicone breast implants before his incarceration. However, he has yet to undergo the reassignment surgery.

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