Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Massachusetts Judge Approves Taxpayer-Funded Sex Change for Convicted Murderer

"Michelle" Kosilek, convicted murder serving a life sentence

Massachusetts judge, Mark Wolf, "The Criminals' Best Friend"

Published September 04, 2012

Associated Press
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered state prison officials to provide taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison for murder.

Michelle Kosilek was born male but has received hormone treatments and now lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the killing of his wife in 1990.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf is believed to be the first federal judge to order prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate.

Kosilek first sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago. Two years later, Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder but stopped short of ordering surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the surgery is a medical necessity.

In his ruling Tuesday, Wolf found that surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's "serious medical need."

"The court finds that there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care," Wolf wrote in his 126-page ruling.

Prison officials have repeatedly cited security risks in the case, saying that allowing Kosilek to have the surgery would make him a target for sexual assaults by other inmates.

But Wolf, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, found that the security concerns are "either pretextual or can be dealt with." He said it would be up to prison officials to decide how and where to house Kosilek after the surgery.

Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for the prisons department, said the agency would have no immediate comment on the ruling.

"We are reviewing the decision and exploring our appellate options," Wiffin said.

In a telephone interview last year with The Associated Press, Kosilek said the surgery is a medical necessity, not a frivolous desire to change his appearance.

"Everybody has the right to have their health care needs met, whether they are in prison or out on the streets," Kosilek said. "People in the prisons who have bad hearts, hips or knees have surgery to repair those things. My medical needs are no less important or more important than the person in the cell next to me."

Wolf noted in his ruling that the Department of Correction's own medical experts testified that they believe surgery was the only adequate treatment for Kosilek.
The department's ex-commissioner Kathleen Dennehy testified that providing Kosilek the surgery would present insurmountable security concerns, but Wolf said Kosilek had proven that those purported concerns masked the real reason for denying surgery: "a fear of controversy, criticism, ridicule and scorn."

Kosilek's lawsuit has become fodder for radio talk shows and lawmakers who say the state should not be forced to pay for a convicted murderer's sex-change operation -- which can cost up to $20,000 -- especially since many insurance companies reject the surgery as elective.

Inmates in Colorado, California, Idaho and Wisconsin have sued unsuccessfully to try to get the surgery, making similar arguments that denying it violates the U.S. Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Wolf noted that Kosilek's gender-identity disorder has caused Kosilek such anguish that he has tried to castrate himself and twice tried to commit suicide, including once while on Prozac.

Kosilek's lead attorney, Frances Cohen, called the decision courageous and thoughtful.
"We feel very grateful that the judge listened very carefully to the medical experts and has given Michelle Kosilek what the prison doctors had recommended," Cohen said.


  1. "he has tried to castrate himself and twice tried to commit suicide, including once while on Prozac."

    Would you rather that suicide and self-mutilation be tolerated among inmates? Or would you rather some other non-surgical treatment for this person?

  2. I'd rather strap him to the electric chair and pull the switch.

  3. Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the killing of his wife in 1990.

  4. FJ: Unless you intend to execute or release every inmate, my question remains relevant.

  5. Sounds like an argument for bringing back corporal punishments, jez. Are you up for it?

    Else everyone has to get put in "the box" (SuperMax). Your choice.

  6. One more reason why we are bankrupt.

    Moral and intellectual bankruptcy precede the financial variety.

  7. Although I think the whole transgender thing is absolutely ridiculous (yes, I'm being judgmental) that doesn't bother me as much as the fact that the tax-payer is footing the bill.

    This guy is serving life for murder, and we're supposed to make him feel more comfortable in his own skin?

    Sorry fella, but when you break the social contract, you don't get to go about your life getting whatever you want via the tax-payers' dollar. That privelage is reserved for welfare scammers (yes, that was intended to be a little trolly).

  8. Jez,

    I regret having to say this, but you've finally forced me to it. You're an absolute fool.

    Please stay away from my blog, okay?

    Your type of thinking -- or lack thereof -- gives me nauseous headaches.

    Just GO AWAY.

    ~ FT

  9. One word... PATHETIC.

    As for the judge... A FOOL.

  10. I agree fully, Les, of course, but the "judge" is worse than a fool. He is the personification of everything that has gone WRONG in our society, as Jez appears to be of all that has made sure that there will NOT always be an England.

    Europe and the United States have been undermined and insidiously transformed from within by "Foreign Thought."

    "Foreign" in the sense that it is antithetical to cherished longstanding traditions.

    Of course "Change is the only constant," so we must expect, and to a certain extent accommodate it, BUT do we have allow ourselves and everything we love to be ANNIHILATED?

    One would hope not.

    ~ FT

  11. Well Jack, the sum is small and won't have any effect on the tax rate one way or another.

    We lose a hundred times that amount on prison guards faking disability.

    The matter is compounded by the general public refusal to believe this is a legitimate medical condition.
    I remember the original homicide and it was apparent then that this man is "unusual". The fact that the judge's ruling reflects a certain amount of compassion doesn't bother me.

  12. "I'd rather strap him to the electric chair and pull the switch."

    The ONLY sane attitude possible, of course.

    ~ FT

  13. The freaking guy wants to kill himself---what's so wrong with the state helping him? The chair can't be as painful as lopping off your own dick.

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  15. I see where you're coming from Ducky. I'm usually the one who preaches practicality over principle, but sometimes you have to stand on principle.

    This is one of those cases, I think.

    Yes, gender identity disorder is a legit pyschiatric disorder, but I would not consider a sex change to be treatment. I'm not a psychiatrist, though, so maybe I'm just full of it.

    The way I see it is, we wouldn't be giving this guy surgery to make his tongue forked if he truly believed that he was supposed to be born a lizard, would we?

    And before you say "that's absurd Jack," just think: it's a psychological disorder. Just because he thinks he should be a woman doesn't mean we go ahead and give him what he wants. Give him his hormone treatments, give him therapy, and tell him to suck it up.

    If he kills himself, so be it. That may sound cold and not compassionate, but when you murder someone and get thrown in the slammer, you sort of waive the right to get everything you've ever wanted.

    How about instead of paying for a sex change, we use that money instead to give to the family of his victim? How about we use that money for a law abiding citizen to, I don't know, go to college or something?

    Even though it's a small amount of money, it can be better spent. Denying him the surgery is not a human rights violation. If he wanted the freedom to do whatever he wants with his life, then perhaps he shouldn't have murdered someone in cold blood.

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  17. Well Jack if I were the attorney in charge of the appeal I would argue that sex changes are generally not covered by private insurance and are not covered by Medicare.
    As a result not providing it to a convicted felon would not constitute anything cruel and unusual.

  18. A more pragmatic and level-headed approach than mine, Ducky.

    *hat tip*

  19. The logic of this in a nutshell: criminal requires rehabilitation and sex change is a big step forward to reverse the mental state which put the criminal in prison. If there is a problem with the judge's decision, it should be based on his reasoning rather than the decision itself.



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