In this March 9, 2011 photo Ophelia De'lonta speaks during an interview at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Va. De'lonta has filed a lawsuit against Virginia Prison officials seeking a sex change operation. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
DILLWYN, Va. — A transgender Virginia inmate is suing the state to get a sex change operation, saying she will continue to try to castrate herself unless she gets the surgery.
Ophelia De'lonta filed a federal lawsuit Friday claiming the state has failed to provide adequate medical care because it won't give her the operation. She says the surgery is needed to treat her gender identity disorder, a mental illness in which people believe they were born the wrong gender.
If she wins, De'lonta would be the nation's first inmate to receive a state-funded sex change operation. Similar lawsuits have failed in a handful of other states, and some lawmakers are trying to ban the use of taxpayer money for the operations.
De'lonta is serving more than 70 years for robbery, weapons and other charges.