For just a moment, park your own personal feelings about “transgendered” individuals and accept that there are some people in our society that don’t identify with their birth gender. Your own beliefs have nothing to do with this story; let’s just say, it is what it is.

Twenty years ago Robert Kosilek was convicted of killing his wife Cheryl, a counselor he met while in drug rehabilitation. Kosilek strangled Cheryl and dumped her body in a car at a local mall. Kosilek was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Kosilek received hormone treatments and began living his life as a woman in an all-male prison.

Twelve years ago, after legally changing his name to Michelle, Kosilek sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to force it to provide gender reassignment surgery. In September U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf in Boston ruled Kosilek must be provided the surgery at taxpayers’ expense; however no date was set for the operation.

Wolf ruled in September that the state had violated Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment by denying him the sex-change surgery. Medical personnel in the state’s Corrections Department recommended the surgery, saying it was medically necessary to treat his gender identity disorder.

Wolf’s decision created a firestorm of public outrage and the state filed an appeal to the September ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Michelle Kosilek

On Tuesday Wolf agreed to stay his order, which he has called “unpopular and misunderstood,” until the state’s appeal of the operation is decided. Wolf also rejected a request for electrolysis treatments for Kosilek, saying that would have to come as part of a new case.

While it doesn’t seem to make sense that the state should stand in the way of Kosilek having the surgery, how can a judge believe that the taxpayers should pay for an inmate’s sexual reassignment operation? Despite Massachusetts universal health insurance, the state doesn’t pay 100 percent of the cost of any surgery, let alone that of a convicted murderer.

When did we get to the place where the needs of convicts became more important than those of law abiding citizens?



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