BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered state prison officials to provide a taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison for murder.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled in the case of Michelle Kosilek, who was born as a man but has received hormone treatments and lives as a woman in an all-male prison.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones Reports

Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the killing of his wife in 1990.

Read: Judge’s Ruling (.pdf)

Wolf is believed to be the first federal judge to order prison officials to provide the surgery for a transgender inmate.

Kosilek first sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago.

Two years later, Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering surgery.

Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the surgery is a medical necessity.

In his ruling Tuesday, Wolf found that surgery is the “only adequate treatment” for Kosilek’s “serious medical need.”

“The court finds that there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care,” Wolf wrote in his 126-page ruling.

Prison officials have repeatedly cited security risks in the case, saying that allowing her to have the surgery would make her a target for sexual assaults by other inmates.

But Wolf found that the DOC’s security concerns are “either pretextual or can be dealt with by the DOC.”

He said it is up to prison officials to decide how and where to house Kosilek after the surgery.

“We are reviewing the decision and exploring our appellate options,” Department of Corrections spokesperson Diane Wiffin told WBZ-TV.

Senator Scott Brown issued the following statement on the court decision:

“This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars. We have many big challenges facing us as a nation, but no where among those issues would I include providing sex change surgery to convicted murderers. I encourage the state to appeal the court’s decision. I look forward to common sense prevailing and the ruling being overturned.”


Susan Ohannessian is outraged that the man convicted of murdering her aunt is able to get a sex change. “Robert Kosilek is never ever, ever going to be a true woman no matter how many surgeries he’s granted,” she told WBZ-TV. “He will never be a woman.”

“It’s unacceptable, it’s totally unacceptable,” she says. “We are already paying for him now, we shouldn’t have to pay for anything more.”

Susan vows to fight for an appeal.

“This comes straight from my father,” says Susan. “The message is to Judge Wolf. Go ahead, make the decisions but God will take care of you too.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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