Surgery Today for Precedent-Setting Transgender Former Inmate

Formerly Incarcerated, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, Scheduled for Surgery Today, February 10

San Francisco, Calif. (February 10, 2017) – Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, most notably known for setting a precedent that the state of California needs to provide gender reassignment surgery for trans inmates, is finally undergoing her surgery today, February 10.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-8-30-32-amIn April 2015, in the landmark decision of Norsworthy v. Beard, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled the state of California needed to provide the surgery due to her chemical castration from long-term high doses of hormone treatment therapy. Although the surgery was scheduled, was unexpectedly paroled shortly before it happened, which meant the state no longer needed to provide the surgery.

“After being paroled right before my surgery, I was all of a sudden completely alone and needed to find my own way to get it,” Michelle-Lael explained. “It wasn’t easy, learning how to figure out how things work out here after being behind bars for 30 years, but I was determined!” 

Michelle-Lael navigated the intricacies of Medicare and our technology-driven society after three decades behind bars. Her surgery is taking place today, February 10. 

More details about Michelle-Lael Norsworthy are available at



4 thoughts on “Surgery Today for Precedent-Setting Transgender Former Inmate

  1. Fine that she set a precedent and trans* people in prison deserve proper medical treatment, but I still don’t think she has learned a thing about her anger or that fact that she has NEVER taken responsibility for murdering her friend. I thought more about you and your advocacy, Ms. Nathan. Norseworthy is still a danger to society and I am not sure why she was paroled. Why you are sharing her story and why does the link you offer mention nothing of her conviction? She has not been rehabilitated in my opinion.



    Murder of Franklin Liefer Jr.
    On the evening of Dec. 4, 1985, Norsworthy, then 21 years old, went to a bar in Fullerton. At some point during that evening, Norsworthy’s friend, 26-year-old Franklin Gordon Liefer Jr., also entered the bar. During the course of the evening, Norsworthy got into a verbal argument with Leifer inside the bar. Norsworthy then exited the bar to retrieve a .22 caliber MK1 semi-automatic rifle from his vehicle. The victim had followed Norsworthy out to his vehicle and saw that the inmate had grabbed the rifle. Norsworthy fired the weapon three times. One of the bullets went through the victim’s genitals and transected his femoral artery. Another bullet hit the victim’s neck, piercing his carotid artery, and rendering him a quadriplegic. Liefer died six weeks later of complications from the gunshot wound. Norsworthy initially claimed that his weapon accidentally discharged twice, and that he had not intended to kill Liefer.

    Unreasonable Risk of Danger to Public Safety
    Norsworthy has not taken responsibility for the crime, and since the inmate’s incarceration, Norsworthy has accumulated more than 16 prison rules violations including violations for fighting, threatening prison staff and other inmates, and possessing dangerous contraband.

    While the inmate has not had any new rules violations since 2009, the inmate’s history of violations demonstrates a pattern of misconduct in a controlled environment, which shows the inmate poses an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. The inmate has not been able follow the rules in a structured prison setting, and so it follows that Norsworthy cannot be counted on to refrain from criminal misconduct if released on parole.

    Norsworthy’s pattern of misconduct while in prison and lack of insight into his actions demonstrates that he still poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society and, therefore, should not be released.

    1. I am not the judge if what she learned or did not learn. Whether her parole was justified or not is not for me to determine either. The Justice system did its thing and I am not the person making those decisions. Thats said you will notice I provided a link below the story which links to the information about her and the case. I am sure there are many perspectives on this story., I am reporting that she finally had her surgery. End of my side of the story! Thanks for commenting…

  2. Additionally, both the New York Times and the SF Chronicle have said that she has issues with anger still. I am not saying there is anything wrong with her Trans* advocacy, I know that Trans* people are incarcerated at high levels for many reasons including sex work and that is unconscionable. But she is a convicted murderer, that’s why this is hard for me. I still enjoy your site, your advocacy and writing, just have difficulty with this story.

    1. Thanks for your support – as noted below I am merely reporting that she had her surgery…. I thought that was of interest to those following the story…

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