Idaho inmate Adree Edmo tried to self-castrate twice, court records show. Now, a federal court has ruled that prison authorities, who knew of Edmo’s “ongoing and extreme suffering and medical needs” and refused to provide treatment, must do so. That treatment is a sex-change operation.
Edmo filed suit against the Idaho Department of Corrections in 2017 after a prison refused to allow and pay for a gender reassignment surgery. The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ordered the corrections department to provide the surgery for “severe gender dysphoria” in 2018 but the IDOC appealed. On Aug. 23, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state must provide “medically necessary gender confirmation surgery.”
Adree Edmo is a transgender woman previously known as Mason Dean Edmo. After prevailing in federal court, Edmo said in a statement issued by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, “I am relieved and grateful the court recognized my right to necessary medical treatment, and that I will get the surgery I need. I hope my case helps the State of Idaho understand that they can’t deny medical care to transgender people.”
The IDOC had denied Edmo’s request for the surgery for nearly five years despite “clear and urgent need for it,” the NCLR wrote. The Ninth Circuit “urge[d] the State to move forward” expeditiously to provide Edmo surgery due to the “gravity of the facts of this case.”
Edmo’s lawyer Lori Rifkin said the “ruling affirms that state officials cannot pick and choose which serious medical conditions they will treat. Intentionally depriving someone of medically necessary care amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, regardless of gender identity.”
Still called Mason Dean Edmo on the Idaho corrections database, the 31-year-old was convicted of sexual abuse of a child under age 16. She’s scheduled to be released from prison in July 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Edmo Was Convicted of Sexually Assaulting a Teenage Boy & Was Sentenced to Serve 10 Years in Prison. While Incarcerated, Edmo Attempted Self-Castration
Edmo has been incarcerated since pleading guilty in 2012 to sexual abuse of a 15-year-old male at a house party. Court documents read that Edmo has “viewed herself as female since age 5 or 6. She struggled with her gender identity as a child and teenager, resenting herself intermittently as female, but around age 20 or 21 she began living full-time as a woman. Edmo was diagnosed in prison with gender dysphoria. She changed her legal name to Adree Edmo and the sex on her birth certificate to female and while in prison “consistently presented as female, despite receiving many disciplinary offense reports for doing so,” court records show. She was disciplined for wearing makeup and “feminine” hairstyles.
Gender dysphoria is defined as a distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth, the court said. “Edmo is a transgender woman in IDOC custody. Her sex assigned at birth was male, but she identifies as female. In her words, ‘my brain typically operates female, even though my body hasn’t corresponded with my brain.’”
She has been given hormone therapy but federal court records show that having male genitals caused her to be “depressed, embarrassed, [and] disgusted.” Medical records noted she bought underwear to keep her “disgusting penis” out of sight. Suffering from depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorder, Edmo has been treated for past trauma and previous suicide attempts. In 2015, she “attempted to castrate herself for the first time using a disposable razor blade. Before doing so, she left a note to alert officials that she was not ‘trying to commit suicide,’ and was instead ‘only trying to
2. The Ninth Circuit Ruled There Was a ‘Clear & Urgent Need’ For Edmo’s Surgery. Idaho’s Governor Says He’s Appealing to the Supreme Court
After a three-day evidentiary hearing on Ms. Edmo’s motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued an order on December 13, 2018 requiring IDOC and IDOC’s medical provider Corizon to provide Ms. Edmo with medically urgent healthcare, including gender confirmation surgery. IDOC and Corizon appealed the district court’s order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On August 23, 2019, a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that IDOC must provide medically necessary gender confirmation surgery to Ms. Edmo. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the district court ordering IDOC to provide this life-saving treatment for severe gender dysphoria.
In an 85-page opinion, the Ninth Circuit concluded that Ms. Edmo “has a serious medical need, that the appropriate medical treatment is GCS [gender confirmation surgery], and that prison authorities have not provided that treatment despite full knowledge of Edmo’s ongoing and extreme suffering and medical needs.” The Court held that “the responsible prison authorities have been deliberately indifferent” to Ms. Edmo’s gender dysphoria in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Idaho corrections department had denied Edmo surgery for nearly five years despite “Edmo’s clear and urgent need for it …(c)iting the “nature and urgency of the relief at issue,” the Ninth Circuit “urge[d] the State to move forward” expeditiously to provide Ms. Edmo surgery because of the gravity of “the facts of this case.”
“This ruling is in line not only with long-standing medical evidence, but also with legal rulings across the country that it is dangerous and unconstitutional to deny transgender people access to medically necessary care in prison,” NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Amy Whelan said.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little plans an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court: “The court’s decision is extremely disappointing. The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals. I intend to appeal this decision to the U.S Supreme Court. We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.”
3. The Victim Claims Edmo Was Always a Gay Man & a ‘Predator’
Brady Summers was the victim in the Edmo sexual assault case. Summers told local media in December of 2018 that Edmo, “…never once indicated anything of gender dysphoria or sexual indifference. He was a predator. He, on several occasions, had his way with me. It was brutal.”
After coming forward last year, Summers wrote on Facebook, “I love each and every one of you for your support. I’m sure you all have had a secret or burden yourself in one way or another. I want to thank you for supporting mine. Since I have voiced something I’ve kept a secret, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. Each and every one of you have helped me feel less ashamed of being abused. However I have to turn off the notifications for this post. I have been attacked, harassed, and disrespected by people I’ve never met in private messages and texts. I am pretty strong-minded but I wasn’t ready for this backlash. I love you all and thank you for helping me release a 10 year burden, and helping you with doing something right. Thank you ❤❤❤”
Days later, he asked friends to help stop Edmo’s request for gender surgery.
Summers said Edmo was “…getting a surgery, an elective surgery, that people have been waiting for all their life to have and it’s a mockery. It’s unjust.”
4. A MoveOn.org Petition Was Created to Stop the ‘Sex Change Operation,’ But the Group Says the Petition It’s Hosting Doesn’t Reflect Its Progressive Values
A Move-On petition that charged “Taxpayer’s dollars should not foot the bill for inmates sex change operation,” was created in 2018. The position is the gender reassignment surgery would affect the “entire country” and “sends the message go to prison for a free sex change surgery. Idaho tax payers do Not need to foot the bill for this. This does Not need to happen.”
MoveOn has hosted the petition but wrote that its “volunteers reviewed this petition and determined that it either may not reflect MoveOn members’ progressive values, or that MoveOn members may disagree about whether to support this petition. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site.”
As of the court decision, signing has ticked up and a new signer goal set.
“This is ridiculous and a waste of tax payers money. I’m appalled it’s even a topic of discussion.”
“The public should never have to pay for this kind of operation for a prisoner. He should NEVER be allowed into a woman’s prison.”
“This is absolutely horrific and should NOT be taking place or considering! No we should NOT help this psychopath to get what he wants. That’s crazy talk. A good jail sentence to death would suffice.”
5. As a Idaho State Corrections Contractor, Corizon Health, the Embattled Private Prison Healthcare Company Accused of Neglect, is Responsible For the Surgery
The lawsuit named the state corrections department, but the first defendant named was Corizon Health, Inc., the Brentwood, TN-based private prison healthcare contractor. According to myriad media reports, the private prison company has been accused of “medical neglect and been faced with “questions about its financial practices.”
One example is the case of inmate Walter Jordan who in 2017 wrote a letter to the U.S. District Court declaring his “impending death.” Jordan died after skin cancer went untreated while he was in a Florence, Arizona prison: “By the time Walter Jordan began radiation therapy on July 21, 2017, his skin cancer had already eaten through his skull and spread to his brain.”
His cancer had a “90 percent cure rate” but he did not receive radiation treatment until it was too late.
The company has not responded to the appellate court ruling on its social media. Heavy has reached out for comment. But in court records, Corizon psychiatrist Dr. Scott Eliason diagnosed Edmo with “gender identity disorder,” now referred to as gender dysphoria. And Corizon psychologist Dr. Claudia Lake confirmed that diagnosis.”