Massachusetts Must Pay for Murderer's Sex Change

Michelle Kosilek, born Robert Kosilek, was convicted of killing wife in 1990

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 4, 2012 12:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – Massachusetts taxpayers are officially on the hook for a transgender murderer's sex-reassignment surgery. US District Judge Mark Wolf today ruled in the case of Michelle Kosilek, who was born as a man but has received hormone treatments and lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the killing of his wife in 1990. Wolf is believed to be the first federal judge to order prison officials to provide the 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, Wolf found that surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's "serious medical need." Prison officials have repeatedly cited security risks in the case, saying that allowing her to have the surgery would make her a target for sexual assaults by other inmates. Wolf said it is up to prison officials to decide how and where to house Kosilek after the surgery.

This May 1990 file booking photo provided by the New Rochelle, N.Y., police department, shows Robert Kosilek, charged in the 1990 killing of his wife Cheryl in Massachusetts.   (AP Photo/New Rochelle Police Department, File)
Robert Kosilek, now known as Michelle, is seen in this Jan. 15, 1993 file photo, in Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford, Mass.   (AP Photo/Lisa Bul, File)
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