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Idaho Loses U.S. Supreme Court Appeal To Overturn Transgender Inmate Case

Adree Edmo
Black and Pink

The U.S. Supreme Court has officially declined to take up the case of a transgender inmate in Idaho who sued state officials to get sex reassignment surgery.

Adree Edmo unofficially won her case in May. That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that it would not block a lower court’s ruling requiring Idaho to pay for her surgery, which is also known as gender confirmation surgery.

Listen to our in-depth, investigative podcast LOCKED chronicling the Adree Edmo case

She got that surgery in July and was transferred to a women’s prison in Pocatello later that month, becoming the first transgender inmate in the country to do so through a court order.

As of mid-October, state officials have spent $456,738 of taxpayer money to fight that battle in court, which they lost each step of the way.

In a statement, Gov. Brad Little said, "The taxpayers of Idaho should not have to pay for a procedure that is not medically necessary. From the start, this appeal was about defending taxpayers and I will continue to do so."

But the surgery itself likely won’t cost taxpayers any extra cash because it’s covered under the prison’s contract with its health care provider, Corizon Health.

At issue was whether the Idaho Department of Correction violated Edmo’s constitutional rights protecting her against cruel and unusual punishment and whether the surgery was “medically necessary.”

She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria soon after she was originally sentenced to prison in 2012 for sexual abuse of a child under 16. Gender dysphoria is a condition that can cause significant distress when a person’s physical body doesn’t match their gender identity.

Edmo was eventually allowed to undergo hormone therapy, but she was kept in a men’s prison and was denied sex reassignment surgery. Her legal team argued that denial aggravated her gender dysphoria to the point where she twice attempted to castrate herself.

Edmo is scheduled to be released from prison in July 2021.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

James Dawson joined Boise State Public Radio as the organization's News Director in 2017. He oversees the station's award-winning news department. Most recently, he covered state politics and government for Delaware Public Media since the station first began broadcasting in 2012 as the country's newest NPR affiliate. Those reports spanned two governors, three sessions of the Delaware General Assembly, and three consequential elections. His work has been featured on All Things Considered and NPR's newscast division. An Idaho native from north of the time zone bridge, James previously served as the public affairs reporter and interim news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. His reporting experience included state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture. He's a proud University of Idaho graduate with a bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. When he's not in the office, you can find James fly fishing, buffing up on his photography or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.