The Supreme Court has rejected a request from Idaho prison officials to block sex reassignment surgery for transgender inmate Adree Edmo. The ruling means preparations for the court-ordered surgery can continue, and while the state has asked the court to take up the case for review, the surgery may take place before the court decides whether to hear the appeal. Edmo, 32, has been serving time in a men's prison since 2012 for sexually assaulting a sleeping 15-year-old boy and is due to be released next year. The court did not say why it decided to let the ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stand, reports the New York Times. It said two justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., would have granted Idaho's request.
Lawyers say Edmo, who has been treated for gender dysphoria while in prison, experiences such profound distress that she has attempted to castrate herself twice. She sued after a prison psychiatrist denied her request for surgery, and a Ninth Circuit panel decided that the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment had been violated. "It is no leap to conclude that Edmo’s severe, ongoing psychological distress and the high risk of self-castration and suicide she faces absent surgery constitute irreparable harm," they wrote. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden argued that the case had national implications, and said the state would suffer "irreparable harm" if taxpayers were "forced to fund a controversial surgery," the Washington Post reports. (Read more transgender stories.)