Already Getting Hormones, Some Want Sex Change OperationsBy Mike Luery

By Mike Luery

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California may be deep in debut, but taxpayers are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for hormone shots to make some male prisoners look more like women.

One of them is Yolanda Gonzalez, a transgender prisoner at California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

“I picked up a knife,” the convicted murderer told CBS 13 in an exclusive interview behind bars. She stabbed her husband to death in “the heart. Four, five times,” Gonzalez admitted.

Yolanda Gonzalez is behind bars for life, but serving time at a men’s prison. Yolanda has been receiving hormone therapy shots every two weeks to become more feminine.

“It gave me what I wanted which was my breasts,” the transgender inmate said.

And if you’re wondering who’s paying for Yolanda’s hormone shots, the answer is – you are – at a cost of $1,000 a year. And Yolanda is not alone.

Lisa Strawn, a convicted burglar with three strikes, is getting a hormone shot every week at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville – home to 2,800 male inmates.

“Is that something that you think is taxpayer dollars well spent?” I asked.

“For me, yes,” was Lisa’s response.

It may be good for Lisa, but not so good for taxpayers, who are shelling out an estimated $300,000 a year on hormones for California’s transgender inmates – some 300 in all, officials from the Medical Receiver’s office confirmed.

The courts have ruled that inmates with “gender identity disorders” must receive hormones behind bars if they were already getting treatments prior to prison.

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“If they only knew how much this is costing us,” Harriet Salarno lamented. She is president of Crime Victims United, a support group based in Auburn.

CBS 13 talked to several crime victim families at the State Capitol, and they all expressed outrage over the taxpayer supported hormonal therapy.

“If it is something that is elective, I don’t believe we should be paying for it,” said Misty Foster, a member of Parents of Murdered Children. “They chose to commit a crime. That is why they are there.”

But transgender inmates we talked to insist that hormone treatments are part of their medical care. Lisa Strawn said, “And we just want to live our lives too just like everybody else.”

Yet some transgender prisoners want to take it even further. Lyralisa Stevens has filed a lawsuit against the state.

Stevens is demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for their sex change operations, which can cost up to $50,000 each, prison officials told CBS 13.

Crime victims had this reaction:

“The way our economy is, the way we are struggling and they’re doing this? This is outrageous,” said Harriet Salarno of Crime Victims United.

“It’s not our responsibility to help them do that surgery,” said Lori Auteri, a crime victim advocate from Yolo County. “I mean there are several things that I would like to have plastic surgery done to myself and nobody’s paying for that for myself.”

The transgender inmates interviewed by CBS 13 said they don’t support the lawsuit – and they definitely don’t want sex change operations – because doing so would mean they could no longer be around male prisoners.

Yolanda said, “If I was to have a sex change I would be transferred to a woman’s institution.” Gonzalez added, “I couldn’t be with a woman, it’s not in me to be with a woman.”

California is officially fighting the sex-change lawsuit. Lawyers for the state have filed papers in court saying sexual reassignment surgery is not required under the constitution and is not medically necessary.

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If you find examples of government waste, send us an e-mail to onthemoney@kovr.com. You can also follow On The Money stories in progress via Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/mikeluery.