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Tipsheet

Federal Officials Deny Biological Male Inmate’s Request for Gender-Affirming Surgery

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The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reportedly denied a federal inmate’s request to receive gender-affirming surgery while in custody.

Cristina Nichole Iglesias, an inmate in Texas, who is a biological male, has been trying “for years” for the BOP to approve the procedure, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. In 2019, Iglesias filed a civil lawsuit against the prison system. A federal judge last year ordered the Bureau to have its transgender council convene and evaluate Iglesias’ request by Jan. 24. 

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“The bureau had two days after that date to tell the federal judge if they’d approved the surgery, said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for ACLU Illinois, which is representing Iglesias in a civil suit against the prison system. The deadline has passed without word from the bureau, Yohnka said,” the Sun-Times noted. “Iglesias wants the surgery soon, according to her lawsuit, because she is set to be released from prison on Dec. 21.”

The Denver Gazette noted that Iglesias is serving a 20-year sentence for threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction against the British government.

“The case was filed in federal court in Illinois because she was previously housed in a facility there,” the Gazette explained. Iglesias is currently housed in a women’s prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Up to May of last year, Iglesias was housed in a men's prison.

“After years of fighting unnecessary hurdles and delays, Cristina has once again been denied the opportunity to get the care she needs and that the Constitution requires,” John Knight, director of the LGBTQ & HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Dallas Morning News reported that Iglesias could become the first federal prisoner to obtain gender-affirming surgery.

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In a statement released in December, the ACLU said that Iglesias “has been denied basic medical care to treat her gender dysphoria” and “has suffered greatly from the denial of appropriate healthcare.”

BOP spokesman Donald Murphy said in a statement to the Sun-Times that "the BOP is committed to providing all inmates a safe and humane environment" and that "we [the BOP] have made several updates to meet the community standard of medical and mental health care."

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