BOISE — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on recently partially lifted a pause in a court case so an Idaho transgender inmate could receive “all presurgical treatments … necessary for gender confirmation surgery.”
That ruling is in response to a motion filed by attorneys for Adree Edmo, 31, a transgender woman from Bannock County who sued the Idaho Department of Correction and its health care partner, Corizon Health, after officials did not provide her with gender confirmation surgery.
Edmo has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition in which the rift between a person’s preferred gender and their birth gender is severe, distressing and hurtful. In extreme cases, the disorder is treated through surgery. Edmo was born male and identifies as a female; everyone involved in the case has agreed she has gender dysphoria, a term she did not know until prison staff told her about it in 2012.
Edmo, sentenced for sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy at a house party, has sued the state for not providing her with the surgery, though she has received other treatments.
In December, a federal district judge ruled authorities had to provide the surgery for Edmo. The state then appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which, in August, made the same finding as the district court. The 9th Circuit Court placed a stay on the district court’s order for the surgery.
Edmo’s lawyers recently asked the 9th Circuit Court to partially lift the stay so Edmo could prepare for the surgery. Deborah Ferguson, one of Edmo’s attorneys, told the Idaho Press on that process can take up to six months.
On Thursday, the circuit court judges granted that motion and lifted the stay. On Friday, Edmo’s attorneys filed a motion in the Idaho district court “so that the Court can ensure immediate implementation of its order in accordance with the partial lifting of the stay.”
“We are very glad these pre-surgical matters can move forward,” Ferguson wrote to the Idaho Press in a message Friday.
Gov. Brad Little has said he’ll take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I continue to evaluate this case with my legal counsel and remain committed to appealing it to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to prevent the hardworking taxpayers of Idaho from being forced to pay for a surgery that is not medically necessary,” Little wrote in a statement on Friday.
If Edmo receives the surgery, she would be only the second person in the country to undergo the process while in prison, and the first in Idaho. Authorities have estimated 30 inmates live with the condition in Idaho’s prison system. Between October 2016 and August 2017, three inmates — two who had gender dysphoria and one who was living with sexual identification issues — killed themselves at the same facility where Edmo lived.
After the 9th Circuit Court’s August ruling, attorneys representing the Idaho Department of Correction and the case’s other defendants filed a petition for a rehearing, arguing the treatment Edmo received was “medically acceptable.” The 9th Circuit Court has yet to rule on that motion, though they granted the motion to partially lift the stay so Edmo could undergo presurgery procedures.
Edmo’s attorneys have argued she needs the surgery soon, because her gender dysphoria is severe, and hurting her. She has twice tried to castrate herself while in prison — once in 2015, and once in 2016.
Despite Edmo’s castration attempts, Dr. Scott Eliason, Corizon’s regional psychiatric director who treated Edmo for a time, did not recommend her for gender confirmation surgery.
Eliason testified at a 2018 hearing that he did not recommend the surgery because he felt Edmo had other, uncontrolled mental health challenges, including depression and alcohol abuse disorder. He also said he did not feel Edmo had adequately lived as a woman for 12 straight months, which is a commonly accepted prerequisite for the surgery.