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american lawyer media news service Albany, n.y.-A convicted killer seeking a sex change is entitled, at taxpayer expense, to medical treatment that could lead to gender reassignment, a federal judge has held. U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn said that the state cannot distinguish between prisoners who began treatment for a gender identity disorder before incarceration and those who discover their transsexual issues while in prison. Currently, the state allows prisoners who commenced the process of gender reassignment before they were imprisoned to continue their treatment, but denies that option to inmates who seek to initiate procedures once they are behind bars. “Surely inmates with diabetes, schizophrenia, or any other serious medical need are not denied treatment simply because their conditions were not diagnosed prior to incarceration,” Kahn said. The judge made clear that he is not ordering a sex change or a specific medical regimen for Mark L. Brooks, a/k/a Jessica M. Lewis. Rather, he is requiring the state to provide medical and psychiatric services to determine the appropriate course of action. Judge Kahn said in Brooks/Lewis v. Berg, No. 00-CV-1433. The ruling, which rejects a report-recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco, arises out of a pro se action initiated by Brooks, a 34-year-old prisoner at Clinton Correctional Facility serving a 50-year-to-life term for a Putnam County, N.Y., murder. Aware since childhood Brooks contends he was aware of his female identity since childhood but became familiar with gender identity disorder during his imprisonment. The condition is a medically and judicially recognized psychiatric disorder. Since 1998, the inmate has been seeking the diagnostic psychotherapy that, he believes, will ultimately lead to “electrolysis, vocal chord modulation, breast implant surgery” and other procedures to complete his transformation. However, the state Department of Correctional Services has a policy in which it may continue therapy for prisoners who commenced the procedure before they are sent to prison, but “[d]uring incarceration transsexual surgical operations are not honored.” It relied on that policy in denying treatment to Brooks.

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