A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Michelle Kosilek

Murderer in Prison Gets a Sex Change

By Ryan Morrison

When I write articles for this website, I always keep in the back of my mind the possibility of a future employer reading what I’ve written. I certainly voice my opinions and have teetered on going overboard once or twice, but never before have I decided to argue for a side that no one seems to support (well right now, it’s 97 percent who disagree with me according to this poll)

This week, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ordered prison officials in Massachusetts to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate.

Think that’s ridiculous? Well, if you do, you’ll really like this:  Michelle (born Robert) Kosilek is serving a life sentence for murdering her wife and has no possibility of parole. (The court opinion referred to the prisoner as “she”, though the surgery had not yet been performed, and I will, too).

I’ll allow you some time to scream at your computer monitor before continuing.  Believe me, I hear you.

“Why the hell should tax payers have to pay for this?” “This surgery is for a sex change, for god’s sake, a choice, not a remedy for something universally agreed to be medically necessary.” “Plenty of people who haven’t killed their wives would love to have this surgery, but don’t, because they can’t afford it. So why should a murderer get this operation for free, when hardworking, law-abiding citizens can’t?”

Like I said, I hear you. But now take a second to hear me.

Michelle Kosilek was in prison for committing the most heinous of crimes, murder. So what? In the United States, prisoners are given treatment for their serious medical conditions regardless of their crimes. End of discussion. So the only questions that matter are whether this prisoner suffers from a serious medical condition and whether gender reassignment surgery is necessary for treatment.

Both these questions were heavily addressed in Judge Wolf’s 126-page decision. In his ruling, Judge Wolf determined gender reassignment surgery was the “only adequate treatment” for a “serious medical need.” He writes: “The court finds that there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of [Ms.] Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care.”

The media has had trouble explaining exactly how Judge Wolf arrived at his decision; allow us.

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