Tax Dollars Pay for Sex Change for Inmate – Really?


Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision that a transsexual inmate convicted of murder is entitled to a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation as a treatment for her severe gender identity disorder. In its ruling, the First Circuit said courts must not shy away from enforcing the rights of all people, including prisoners. “And receiving medically necessary treatment is one of those rights, even if that treatment strikes some as odd or unorthodox.”

The ruling came in the case of convicted wife killer Michelle L. Kosilek. Born Robert Kosilek, Michelle struggled for years with feelings that she was a woman inside a man’s body. Kosilek’s wife, Cheryl, thought she could cure Kosilek but he repaid her empathy by strangling her in 1990.

Kosilek was convicted in 1992 and began battling state prison officials by filing a lawsuit seeking the surgery. Kosilek lost her first case; however, in her second lawsuit, US District Court Judge Mark Wolf ordered the surgery to take place. Judge Wolf found that Kosilek had a serious medical need that could only be adequately treated with the surgery, there was no legitimate reason to deny the surgery, and the denial of surgery would violate Kosilek’s right to adequate prison medical care under the Eighth Amendment.

For that keeping score, this is the first time an appeals court has ruled that a sex change operation was necessary for a prisoner suffering from gender identity disorder. Despite the ruling, it’s not clear if the surgery will take place any time soon as the district court’s order was stayed during the appeal. Additionally, no surgeon in Massachusetts has expressed a willingness to perform the surgery. Finally, although an out-of-state doctor was located who is willing to perform the surgery, the state medical board has not given him the authorization to do the procedure in Massachusetts.

I’m sure some of you are wondering where Michelle, with Robert’s equipment, has been housed for the past two decades. Kosilek, 64, has been staying in a men’s prison where she is taking hormones and developing female physical qualities while awaiting the surgery.

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