US: State to appeal against gender reassignment ruling for trans prisoner

Joseph McCormick September 26, 2012
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The Department of Correction is to appeal against a judge’s ruling that a trans woman incarcerated in a male-only prison should be given gender reassignment surgery as the only suitable way to treat her condition.

The Boston Herald reported that an administrative source revealed that the department would appeal against the ruling by Judge Mark Wolf.

Judge Wolf, of Boston, Massachusetts ruled earlier this month that Michelle Kosilek, 63, would be given gender reassignment surgery in prison, as the “only adequate treatment” of her gender dysphoria. This was believed to be the first ruling of its kind.

He said that Ms Kosilek should be granted the surgery, in a legal first, and also that she should also have her legal fees paid by the state. Her fees were not calculated, but were likened to those of a similar, $500,000 case.

The prisoner identifies herself as female but was incarcerated in an male-only prison. She was previously known as Robert, was married to Cheryl Kosilek, and was convicted of murdering her in 1990.

She received a life sentence, with no parole, had attempted to take her own life, and to self-castrate since being locked up in the all male prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts.

Almost 50 state lawmakers in Massachusetts subsequently began the process of attempting to reverse the decision, led by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, who called the ruling an “absurd decision.”

Attorneys acting on behalf of Ms Kosilek have until October 4 to file for their fees, but have offered to waive them, excluding out-of-pocket expenses, on the condition that the Department of Correction does not appeal against Judge Wolf’s ruling.

“The firms have offered to waive their fees in exchange for Miss Kosilek getting court-ordered relief without further appeal,” said Frances Cohen, attorney.

Complaints from the DoC have claimed that after the surgery, Ms Kosilek could be a target for sexual assaults, citing security risks. Judge Wolf, however, said these claims were: ”either pretextual or can be dealt with.”

The Department of Correction has until October 9 to lodge an appeal.

Related topics: Americas, Boston, gender reassignment, Massachusetts, michelle kosilek, prison, trans discrimination, US

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