Appeals Court Upholds Inmate's Right To Sex Change Surgery

A federal appeals court has decided to uphold a judge's ruling ordering Massachusetts to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transsexual inmate.

Appeals Court Upholds Inmate's Right To Sex Change Surgery

A Massachusetts federal appeals court has decided to uphold a judge's ruling ordering the state to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transsexual prison inmate.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston found Friday that the surgery is necessary for Michelle Kosilek. (Via WFXT)

"A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's gender-identity disorder." (Via WSHM)

Kosilek sued the the state's Department of Correction in 2000 for not allowing her to get a sex change operation, and the lower court decided she was entitled to the surgery two years later.

But the court didn't order the procedure, and Kosilek sued again in 2005, claiming the surgery was medically necessary. (Via NECN)

And Friday, the appeals court ruled Massachusetts officials violated Kosilek's constitutional rights by failing to provide her with the surgery. (Via KCAL)

The Boston Globe reports the appeals court pointed out in its 80-page decision that courts "must not shrink from their obligation to enforce the constitutional rights of all persons, including prisoners. And receiving medically necessary treatment is one of those rights, even if that treatment strikes some as odd or unorthodox."

But the state Department of Correction isn't pleased with the ruling, arguing that Kosilek has been given the proper treatment for gender identity disorder in prison. That treatment, RT reports, includes female hormones, laser hair removal and psychotherapy. (Via RT)

The Department of Correction also argued there are safety concerns over protecting her against sexual assault in an all-male prison if she has the surgery.

But CBC notes judges cited a prison security review conducted after Kosilek started dressing in women's clothing and wearing make-up showed no signs of security issues.

Michelle Kosilek, who was born Robert, is serving a life sentence behind bars for the 1990 murder of her wife Cheryl. (Via WHDH)

According to CNN, while incarcerated in an all-male prison in Norfolk, she attempted to castrate herself and tried to commit suicide twice.

Sex-reassignment surgeries can reportedly cost more than $50,000. Kosilek's attorney told reporters the procedure will be paid for under a contract the Department of Correction has with its medical provider.