California Wastes Millions of Tax Dollars on Gender Surgeries for Prisoners
California taxpayers have found themselves funding gender surgeries for prisoners to the tune of over $4 million since 2017. In 2017, California made history by becoming the first state to foot the bill for gender-affirming surgeries for inmates desiring to transition. The hefty price tag includes $2.5 million for vaginoplasties, with additional costs for other transgender procedures such as breast implants, laser hair removal, and facial feminization, among others.
Notably, the beneficiaries of this taxpayer-funded initiative include four individuals who were convicted of crimes that landed them on death row. Although prosecutors in California still retain the ability to seek the death penalty, the state has not executed anyone in 17 years, and Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on capital punishment in 2019.
This financial commitment to gender surgeries for prisoners has stirred controversy, with critics arguing against the use of taxpayer dollars for what they deem experimental and scientifically unjustified procedures. Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who has represented California inmates, emphasized that individuals identifying as transgender deserve respect and dignity but questioned the necessity of using taxpayer funds for surgeries of questionable scientific merit.
Records reveal that California has sponsored artificial vaginas and vulvas for 35 male prisoners, costing $2.5 million. Moreover, 11 male inmates received breast implants, amounting to over $180,000 in taxpayer expenditure. On the other side, 40 female prisoners had their breasts removed, with a price tag exceeding $1 million.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has maintained a case-by-case approval process for gender surgeries, without imposing restrictions on the type of surgery an inmate can undergo. However, there has been a substantial surge in requests for “gender-affirming” surgeries, exceeding 1,000 since 2017 as of the early summer of 2023. This marks a significant increase, with requests more than doubling in California prisons in 2022. During this period, the number of trans-identifying prisoners has surged by 234%.
The issue of male prisoners identifying as female and being transferred to women’s prisons has added complexity to the situation. In 2021, a women’s rights group filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California after several imprisoned women reported sexual assaults by male inmates who identified as transgender or “nonbinary.”
While California stands out in this practice, it’s not the sole state allocating taxpayer dollars for gender surgeries. States like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have also spent millions on these life-altering procedures on children, between 2015 and the spring of this year. The controversy surrounding the use of taxpayer funds for gender surgeries remains a contentious topic, prompting discussions on limits, justifications, and the societal implications of such expenditures.