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Transgender-inmate ruling is movement’s latest win

Associated Press

A court ruling that ordered Massachusetts to pay for an inmate’s sex-change surgery is being seen as another milestone for transgender people.

In recent years, more than a dozen states, including Wisconsin, have revised anti-discrimination laws to include transgender people.

And transgender people have helped raise their community’s profile by winning elective office and being appointed to jobs at the White House.

Advocates say access to health care is the biggest problem for the transgender community.

Sex-reassignment surgery can cost as much as $20,000. Opponents say a government should not be forced to pay for an operation that many insurance companies reject as elective.

In 2011, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a ruling striking down a 2005 Wisconsin law that banned publicly funded hormone therapy for a group of inmates who identify as transgender women. The appeals court found that the law violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment by denying medical treatment.

“Refusing to provide effective treatment for a serious medical condition serves no valid penological purpose and amounts to torture,” the court wrote.

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