An Illinois judge ordered a man incarcerated in federal prison for 28 years on a terrorism charge be given gender-changing surgery.
Southern District of Illinois Judge Nancy Rosenstengel Monday ordered the Bureau of Prisons to undergo a nationwide search for a qualified surgeon to perform the surgery for inmate Cristina Nichole Iglesias. Judge Rosenstengel, appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014, ordered BOP provide her with weekly updates. She further ordered BOP to provide a detailed plan that ensures Iglesias gets the surgery before his December release from prison.
Iglesias, imprisoned since 1994 for threatening use of a weapon of mass destruction, got closer to receiving the procedure he has been fighting for six years to get. The current court case has been ongoing for approximately three years, according to an NBC News report.
“I am hopeful that I will finally get the care I need to live my life fully as the woman I am,” Iglesias reportedly explained to the network in a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Iglesias. “BOP has denied me gender-affirming surgery for years — and keeps raising new excuses and putting new obstacles in my way. I am grateful that the court recognized the urgency of my case and ordered BOP to act.”
He identified as a woman upon incarceration, the report noted, adding Iglesias has been housed in men’s facilities for more than 20 years. He reportedly experienced physical and sexual violence, the ACLU said. In May, her lawsuit to seek gender-affirming surgery resulted in her being one of the few transgender federal prisoners moved to a facility that corresponds with her gender identity.
Iglesias is now being housed in a women’s prison in Fort Worth, Texas, according to a Townhall report. Even though he has been incarcerated in Texas, Iglesias’ case was filed in Illinois federal court because he was previously housed in a facility there, the report noted.
The ACLU argues BOP recognized their client as a transgender woman and diagnosed Iglesias with gender dysphoria in 1994 but refused to provide basic needed medical care and refused to move Iglesias to a women’s facility. The legal advocacy group said the prison agency chooses instead to incarcerate Iglesias with men even in the face of escalating attacks and threats on his life.
“Being denied the gender-affirming care I need has had a huge impact on me, because I’m unable to complete myself,” Iglesias said. “Not having a body that matches who I know myself to be affects me every moment of every day.”
“I want the Bureau of Prisons to do the right thing and give me the surgery I need,” added the prisoner. “It shouldn’t take a court order for me and other transgender people to get adequate health care, as has happened in the past.” Iglesias accuses BOP of dragging its feet in complying with a court order to provide the gender-altering surgery.
“I want them to stop creating barriers — and to understand that we are human, too.”
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