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Sex Change Awarded to Inmate Based on 8th Amendment

A convicted Massachusetts murderer has been awarded a sex change due to his severe gender identity disorder. Additionally, he may be eligible to have legal fees paid for.

Michelle Kosilek, born Robert, was convicted in 1990 for the murder of his wife Cheryl. The 63-year-old has been living in an all-male prison, but as a woman. He first sued prison officials for sex reassignment surgery 12 years ago, and again in 2005. US District Judge Mark Wolf originally ruled that Kosilek was eligible for treatment of his gender identity disorder, but did not agree to the sex change operation. Kosilek made two suicide attempts, allegedly related to his disorder.

He told the Associated Press that gender identity disorder was a “valid medical condition,” but he knew some people did not see it that way.

Wolf’s latest ruling sides with Kosilek, citing Eighth Amendment Rights protecting against cruel and unusual punishment. He said that the surgery is the “only adequate treatment” for Kosilek’s disorder.

Kosilek may also be eligible to have his legal fees paid for. His lawyer, Frances Cohen, has not yet calculated the fees, but it would be comparable to a similar case in which an inmate sued the Department of Correction for treatment of gender identity disorder – legal fees came to $500,000.

However, Cohen said she would consider waiving the team’s legal fees if the DOC agrees not to appeal the ruling.

Diane Wiffin, a spokesperson for the DOC, said they have not yet decided whether or not to appeal Wolf’s ruling. State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, called for the DOC to appeal the ruling. “In ruling that the plaintiff is entitled to legal costs in his pursuit of gender reassignment surgery, Judge Wolf is continuing down the wrong path,” Tarr said in a statement on Monday.

Even if you have been charged or convicted of a crime, you still have rights. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help you with questions about state or federal criminal defense, personal injury, workers compensation, and class action litigation, among several other practice areas. We also offer free, confidential consultations, so contact us today to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.



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