A federal judge has ruled that a man convicted of raping his 10-year-old daughter will be allowed to get gender reassignment surgery while in prison, paid for at taxpayers' expense.In a ruling earlier this month, U.S. District Judge James Peterson approved the request of Mark Allen Campbell, a 49-year-old Wisconsin man, to undergo gender reassignment surgery, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The man now goes by the name "Nicole Rose" and has identified as female since 2013, when he first requested the operation.
Campbell sued the Department of Corrections in 2016 after he was denied the surgery, arguing that his rights were violated under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.
He has been allowed to dress as a woman, receive cross-sex hormone treatments, and get counseling at Racine Correctional Institute, a men's prison, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel added.
Campbell has been a 34-year sentence after having pled guilty in 2007 to repeated first-degree sexual assault of a child.
Although Campbell's 2016 lawsuit was denied, Peterson noted in his ruling that the Department of Corrections requested that, if ordered the surgery, that he remand Campbell to live at Taycheedah Correctional Institution, the state's largest women's prison, for a year.
"That request came as a surprise," Peterson wrote, "because previously the DOC designated any inmate with a penis to a male prison, regardless of gender identity or expression."
"True public interest lies in alleviating needless suffering by those who are dependent on the government for their care," he said, adding that he would not "impose any further prerequisites on Campbell's sex reassignment surgery."
The Department of Corrections previously stated that while the prisoner met the criteria for surgery, Campbell had not lived as a woman "in real life," something that was said to be impossible while housed in a men's prison.
Peterson reportedly gave weight to the testimony of a social worker and sex therapist who said that the requirement for "real life experience" might not matter in Campbell's case since Campbell experienced gender dysphoria before prison, had lived as female while incarcerated, and faces many years of imprisonment.
For Campbell to get the surgery, the lone surgeon in the state who performs sex-change operations will have to agree that it's medically necessary, which could take up to a year to get approved.
The rights of inmates who identify as transgender have been percolating through federal courts in recent years as claims of transgender activists become increasingly visible.
In January, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the mandatory use of transgender pronouns. The federal ruling centered around the case of a trans-identified sex offender, Norman Varner, who was convicted of possessing child pornography and had demanded to be referred to by using female pronouns in court documents and to be called "Katherine Nicole Jett."
“If a court orders one litigant referred to as ‘her’ (instead of ‘him’), then the court can hardly refuse when the next litigant moves to be referred to as ‘xemself’ (instead of ‘himself’)," wrote Kyle Duncan, a Trump-appointed judge, in the opinion for the majority.
“Deploying such neologisms could hinder communication among the parties and the court,” the judge added. “And presumably the court’s order, if disobeyed, would be enforceable through its contempt power.”
Duncan concluded: “We decline to enlist the federal judiciary in this quixotic undertaking.”