Judge orders Massachusetts to pay for killer's gender change procedure

Michelle Kosilek
By: John Roberts 

Now the U.S. taxpayer will have to pay for a prison inmate's sex change operation.

A federal judge has ordered officials in Massachusetts to pay for the operation of a convicted murderer’s sex change, stating that the State had violated the prisoner's constitutional rights in denying the procedure.

In an order of 126 pages published in Boston, USA District Judge Mark Wolf ruled in favor of Michelle Kosilek, who sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago to force them to provide him with the surgery while in prison.

Wolf said prison officials were not within the law to deny Kosilek the treatment he was entitled to and had been recommended by the department of medical personnel. The court had previously ruled that Kosilek should at least be evaluated for surgery.

Although Kosilek legally changed his name, formerly Robert Kosilek, and has been taking hormones that caused him to grow breasts, the judge used masculine pronouns through the order. He is incarcerated in a state prison for male inmates.

Kosilek, according to court documents, has suffered from gender identity disorder since he was a toddler. He married a counselor he met in drug rehab, but murdered her in 1990 after she caught him wearing her clothes.

He was convicted in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
"In this case Kosilek has shown that he still has a serious gender identity disorder. Though female hormones have helped him a bit, he is still suffering intense mental anguish because of his belief that a woman is trapped in his male body," Wolf wrote, citing protection of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment.

Wolf said the corrections department had fired a doctor who ordered Kosilek receive the surgery and had hired a social worker who always recommend that prisoners do not have the procedure done.

Wolf does not explicitly state a timetable for Kosilek’s surgery, saying it depended on the situation to determine who should perform the operation and at what facilities.

A Correction Department spokesman said it was reviewing the decision and exploring the possibility of an appeal.