On Tuesday, in a 126-page order issued in Boston, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled in favor of one Michelle Kosilek, who had sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago to provide him sex-change surgery while imprisoned.
The court found that senior corrections officials had engaged in proved patterns of “pretense, pretext and prevarication” to deny Kosilek the treatment she was entitled to. The court also noted that the department medical staff who had recommended the operation was fired and in his place, the department hired a social worker well known for consistently recommending against sex change.
According to court records, Kosilek suffered from gender identity disorder since s/he was a child. He married a counselor he had met during drug rehabilitation, but murdered her when she caught him in her clothes.
Kosilek was convicted in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The judge observed, “In this case Kosilek has proven that he still has a severe gender identity disorder. Although female hormones have helped somewhat, he continues to suffer intense mental anguish because of his sincere and enduring belief that he is a female trapped in a male body.”
The denial of sex-change surgery was held by the court as an act of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
Michelle Kosilek was previously Robert Kosilek before legally changing her name. However, the court used male pronouns to refer to her in the judgment. Currently she is incarcerated in a prison for male inmates.
The court has not set any explicit date for the surgery and a spokeswoman for the Department of Correction said the department was reviewing the decision and exploring the chances of an appeal.
The case is Kosilek vs. Spencer, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 00-12455.