The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is required to allow a federal inmate to have for the first time gender reassignment surgery as a result of a court order Wednesday determining the agency was waiting too long to provide the procedure.
The 31-page order, issued by U.S. District Nancy Jo Rosenstengel, an Obama appointee, follows three years of litigation after Cristina Nichole Iglesias sought gender reassignment surgery, but faced repeated denials and delays from the Bureau of Prisons.
The judge previously ordered the agency to provide the procedure, prompting the Bureau of Prisons to order it provided for Iglesias in January 2022, but at this point it still hasn’t happened.
“As previously noted, throughout this litigation the Federal Bureau of Prisons has employed tactics similar to the game of Plinko on The Price is Right,” Rosenstengel said. “BOP was warned for employing these tactics, and it apologized. Now BOP’s tactics are turning into a game of ‘whack-a-mole.’ Indeed, it appeared the last of BOP’s moles had been ‘whacked.’ Then another one ‘popped-up.’ This time BOP represented it had an appointment with a surgeon for a consultation of gender confirmation surgery (“GCS”) on April 7, 2022, but the surgeon does not even perform vaginoplasties.”
Rosenstengel, clearly indignant over the continued delays in fulfilling the terms of her previous decision, also directs officials within the Bureau of Prisons to appear before the court in a separate case to explain why they shouldn’t face sanctions for slow-walking the process.
Iglesias is now expected to be the first person in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to receive gender-affirming surgery, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the decision or whether it will appeal the order, citing a policy of withholding comment on litigation underway in court. Iglesias is represented by ACLU of Illinois, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Chicago-based Winston & Strawn LLP, and Feirich/Mager/Green/Ryan.