The transgender woman at the center of a case that's made headlines nationwide blames the system as to why she turned to a "back alley" procedure.
James Pennington, 57, is accused removing a transgender woman's testicles during a botched surgery. The Westminster man, charged with aggravated assault, is now out on $50,000 bond.
Denver police say Pennington didn't have a medical license, and performed the surgery at an apartment.
After this story made it to the news, the transgender woman in this case wrote an open letter to the media -- saying she wasn't a victim of Pennington, and that he's not a monster.
Instead, she says, she is the victim of a healthcare system that "focuses on trying to bully and discourage transgender people into the shadows."
In the letter, she describes her lifetime of struggle.
"I tried for many years to go through legitimate routes to get these surgeries," she wrote. "Yet every time something went wrong."
Advocates like Rex Fuller with the GLBT Community Center of Colorado call it an extreme example, but one that highlights a real problem.
"Many trans people still experience great difficulty accessing healthcare and health services of any kind," Fuller said. "It absolutely speaks to a real gap in knowledge regarding transgender healthcare needs."
The Colorado Division of Insurance says the state doesn't require carriers to cover gender reassignment surgery "primarily because there is no state or federal mandate to do so."