Idaho inmate becomes second in US to receive gender confirmation surgery

Adree Edmo | Idaho Department of Correction

BOISE — An Idaho inmate became the second person in United States history to receive gender confirmation surgery while in prison.

On July 10, 32-year-old transgender woman Adree Edmo received the surgery, Amy Whelan, one of Edmo’s attorneys, told EastIdahoNews.com. The surgery came after a lengthy court battle between the State of Idaho and Edmo. In May, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Idaho’s request to stop the surgery.

“As the court in Ms. Edmo’s case held, the Idaho Department of (Correction) and its private health care provider, Corizon Health, subjected Ms. Edmo to cruel and unusual punishment when it refused to provide this critical care. We are relieved that Ms. Edmo finally had this life-saving surgery,” said Whelan, a senior attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Edmo was born a male while identifying as a female. In 2012, doctors at IDOC diagnosed Edmo with gender dysphoria. The American Psychiatric Association says gender dysphoria represents itself as “conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which” the person identifies. The association says people with gender dysphoria might feel uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Before receiving the surgery, Edmo attempted self-castration twice while behind bars.

The treatment for such a disorder can vary from person to person, according to the APA. For some, it requires surgery, while others use hormonal therapy or counseling.

A treating physician working with the Department of Correction’s contractor determined Edmo’s gender confirmation surgery not medically necessary. However, in Dec. 2018, a federal district judge overruled the doctor’s decision, causing the state to appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A panel of judges within the 9th Circuit upheld the district judge’s decision.

In May, Little appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying he and the office of Attorney General Lawrence Wasden worked together to defend the taxpayers and Constitution, according to a governor’s news release in May. Along with the appeal, Little asked the court to pause the order from the district court to perform the surgery.

Following Edmo’s surgery, Idaho Department of Correction Spokesman Jeff Ray told EastIdahoNews.com that Edmo would remain at Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino for continued medical care. The department will transfer Edmo to the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center in Pocatello once medically cleared.

Edmo is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy in Bannock County. Edmo’s sentence reaches its end on July 3, 2021.

In 2017, Shiloh Heavenly Quine became the first inmate in America to receive a state-funded gender confirmation surgery, according to the Los Angelas Times. Quine is serving a life sentencing in California after a conviction for first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom.