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Parole for Va. inmate seeking sex-change surgery

By By LARRY O'DELL

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia prison inmate who's suing the state to finance a sex-change operation has been granted parole.

Virginia Parole Board chairman William Muse said Thursday that the board approved Ophelia De'Lonta's release last month. De'Lonta remains in custody at Buckingham Correctional Center pending approval of her parole plan, which Muse says can take 45 days or longer.

De'Lonta was born Michael A. Stokes and has served 34 years of a 73-year sentence for robbery. She has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder. Her desire for a sex-change operation has prompted several attempts at self-castration.

Muse says the lawsuit had no bearing on the parole decision. De'Lonta's attorney, Alan Schoenfeld, declined to comment on what effect the parole might have on the suit.

The parole decision was first reported by WWBT-TV.

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