CRIME

Panel recommends parole for transgender California inmate seeking sex reassignment surgery

  • FILE - This March 28, 2014, file photo, provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Michelle-Lael Norsworthy. On April 2, 2015 a federal judge ordered California’s corrections department to provide the transsexual inmate with sex change surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state. Now Norsworthy faces the awful irony: If she wins freedom from a parole board Thursday, May 21, 2015, after 28 years in prison, she would no longer be eligible for the prison-funded operation she says is crucial to her emotional health. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP Photo)

    FILE - This March 28, 2014, file photo, provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Michelle-Lael Norsworthy. On April 2, 2015 a federal judge ordered California‚Äôs corrections department to provide the transsexual inmate with sex change surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state. Now Norsworthy faces the awful irony: If she wins freedom from a parole board Thursday, May 21, 2015, after 28 years in prison, she would no longer be eligible for the prison-funded operation she says is crucial to her emotional health. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy speaks during her parole hearing at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., Thursday, May 21, 2015. A federal judge ordered The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide the transgender inmate with sex reassignment surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state. The parole board granted Norsworthy's request for parole which could change her possibility of surgery while in custody. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

    Inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy speaks during her parole hearing at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., Thursday, May 21, 2015. A federal judge ordered The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide the transgender inmate with sex reassignment surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state. The parole board granted Norsworthy's request for parole which could change her possibility of surgery while in custody. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)  (The Associated Press)

  • Inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, right, speaks as her attorney Kate Brosgart listens during her parole hearing at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., Thursday, May 21, 2015. A federal judge ordered The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide the transgender inmate with sex reassignment surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state. The parole board granted Norsworthy's request for parole which could change her possibility of surgery while in custody. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

    Inmate Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, right, speaks as her attorney Kate Brosgart listens during her parole hearing at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., Thursday, May 21, 2015. A federal judge ordered The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide the transgender inmate with sex reassignment surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state. The parole board granted Norsworthy's request for parole which could change her possibility of surgery while in custody. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)  (The Associated Press)

A California panel has recommended parole for a transgender California inmate, a decision that ironically could keep her from receiving prison-funded sex reassignment surgery.

A pair of parole commissioners decided Thursday that 51-year-old Michelle-Lael Norsworthy is no longer dangerous and should be freed. She has served 28 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction from Orange County.

The state parole board now has 120 days to review the commissioners' recommendation.

Meanwhile, corrections officials are asking an appeals court to delay a federal judge's order that Norsworthy be provided with the surgery as soon as possible.

The decision sets up a race to see if Norsworthy, who has lived as a woman since the 1990s, gets the surgery before she is paroled.