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Federal Judge Rules Convicted Murderer Can Have Sex Change In Prison, Paid For By Tax Dollars

//robert kosilek killer sex change ap

Sep. 4 2012, Published 7:00 a.m. ET

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By Debbie Emery - Reporter

A transsexual killer has been given the green light by a federal judge to undergo a sex-reassignment surgery from behind bars, and taxpayers will foot the bill.

Michelle Kosilek, who was born Robert, is serving a life sentence for first degree murder after she strangled her wife, Cheryl, in 1990 and dumped her body in a car at a Massachusetts mall, reported

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Now having lived as a woman since 1993 in an all-male prison, the killer has been granted the right to have life-changing surgery after U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf ruled that the treatment is the only adequate care for the prisoner's serious mental illness of gender identity disorder.

“This fact that sex reassignment surgery is for some people medically necessary has recently become more widely recognized,” Wolf wrote in a landmark, 129-page ruling issued on Tuesday.

Kosilek first sued the Department of Corrections in 2000, arguing that its refusal to pay for a sex-change violates her Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The department has consistently opposed the request.

The District Court Chief judge finally agrees with the inmate and in explanation of the groundbreaking decision Wolf explained, "Denying adequate medical care because of a fear of controversy or criticism from politicians, the press, and the public serves no legitimate penological purpose. It is precisely the type of conduct the Eighth Amendment prohibits.”

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The judge went on to call it "unusual" to treat a prisoner with gender identity disorder differently "than the numerous inmates suffering from more familiar forms of mental illness."

During the span of her sentence, troubled Kosilek has tried to castrate herself and has attempted suicide twice, according to the ruling.

Prison officials have claimed that if Kosilek had the surgery she could be a target for sexual assaults, among other security risks, but Wolf is confident that those concerns were "either pretextual or can be dealt with."

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Kosilek's attorney, Joseph L. Sulman, said that he welcomed the ruling, and that he anticipates the department will “promptly arrange for Michelle Kosilek to receive her treatment.”

“The law has always been in our favor, and we thought once the law was applied to the facts, the judge really only could reach one conclusion,” Sulman said.


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