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Forums > Social Discussion > Jailed killer sues for gender change

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:See what happens if you stay in jail too long? That's why they freed Paris... wink


Convicted killer Robert Kosilek, now called Michelle, wants sex-change surgery
Trial opened more than a year ago; expert testimony has cost more than $52,000
Advocates say sex-change surgery, in some cases, is a medical necessity
Trial outrages lawmakers who say taxpayers shouldn't pay for "elective" surgery

 Written by: CNN

BOSTON (AP) -- A trial that opened more than a year ago has become bogged down in Boston federal court.

There have been hundreds of hours of testimony from witnesses, including 10 medical specialists paid tens of thousands of dollars. The judge himself even hired an expert to help him make sense of it all.

The question at the center of the case: Should a murderer serving life in prison get a sex-change operation at taxpayer expense?

The case of Michelle -- formerly Robert -- Kosilek is being closely watched across the country by advocates for other inmates who want to undergo a sex change. Transgender inmates in other states have sued prison officials, and not one has succeeded in persuading a judge to order a sex-change operation.

The Massachusetts Correction Department is vigorously fighting Kosilek's request for surgery, saying it would create a security nightmare and make Kosilek a target for sexual assault.

An Associated Press review of the case, including figures obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews, found that the Correction Department and its outside health care provider have spent more than $52,000 on experts to testify about an operation that would cost about $20,000.

The duration and expense of the case have outraged some lawmakers who insist that taxpayers should not have to pay for inmates to have surgery that most private insurers reject as elective.

"They are prisoners. They are there because they've broken the law," said Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, who unsuccessfully introduced a bill to ban sex-change surgery for inmates. "Other folks, people who want to get these types of surgeries, they have to go through their insurance carrier or save up for it and do it independently. Yet if you are in prison, you can do it for nothing? That doesn't make a lot of sense."

Advocates call surgery a medical necessity

But advocates say in some cases -- such as that of Kosilek, who has twice attempted suicide -- sex-change surgery is as much a medical necessity as treatment for diabetes or high blood pressure.

"The duty belongs to the prison to figure out how to fulfill its constitutional obligations to both provide adequate medical care and provide a fundamental security for all inmates," said Cole Thaler, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a gay- and transgender-rights group.

Kosilek, 58, was convicted of strangling his wife in 1990. He claimed he killed her in self-defense after she spilled boiling tea on his genitals.

Robert Kosilek legally changed his name to Michelle in 1993, and has sued the Correction Department twice, arguing that its refusal to allow a sex-change operation violates the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In 2002, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to medical treatment for gender identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering the surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the hormone treatments, laser hair removal and psychotherapy she has received since Wolf's ruling have not relieved her anxiety and depression.

"I would not want to continue existing like this," Kosilek testified.

Kosilek's second trial, which began in May 2006, has featured expert testimony from 10 doctors, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Wolf has not indicated when he will rule.
Experts offer up differing opinions

The Correction Department has spent about $33,000 on two experts it retained to evaluate Kosilek. Both Cynthia Osborne, a Baltimore psychotherapist, and Chester Schmidt, a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins University, said Kosilek does not need the surgery. Schmidt's fee alone was $350 per hour.

Two other doctors retained and paid for by the department's outside health provider, the University of Massachusetts Correctional Health Program, at a cost of just under $19,000 said they believe the surgery is medically necessary for Kosilek. Two other doctors who work for the health provider agreed with that.

In addition, two psychiatrists who testified for Kosilek recommended the surgery. A Boston law firm representing Kosilek for free paid for those experts but would not disclose the cost.

In Wisconsin, five inmates sued after the Legislature passed a law that bars Correction Department funding for hormone treatments or sex-change surgery. The case is expected to go to trial in October.

Those who argue against allowing the surgery say it could open the floodgates to other inmates who want sex-change operations or other treatments considered elective.

In Massachusetts, 10 inmates have been diagnosed with gender identity disorder and are receiving hormone treatments. Two other inmates besides Kosilek have asked for sex-change surgery.

Corrections officials say their decision to deny the surgery has nothing to do with costs or the politics of crime. They cite the testimony of their experts and Kosilek herself that her feelings of depression have diminished since she began taking hormones.

Former Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy testified that allowing Kosilek to complete the transformation into a woman would present a security problem. Whether she stays in a male prison or is transferred to a female prison, she could become a target for sexual assault, Dennehy testified.

Dennehy also said prison officials cannot be influenced by Kosilek's talk of suicide.

"The department does not negotiate or respond to threats of harm or suicide in an effort to barter," she said. "You couldn't run a prison with that kind of leveraging going on."



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Spanner
BRONZE Member since Feb 2003

Spanner

remembers when it was all fields round here
Location: in the works... somewhere...

Total posts: 2790
Posted: Written by: FireTom


The Massachusetts Correction Department is vigorously fighting Kosilek's request for surgery, saying it would create a security nightmare and make Kosilek a target for sexual assault.




As there are apparently already "more men raped in U.S. prisons than non-incarcerated women similarly assaulted", I doubt that would make much difference.

I'm sure that, as a prisoner, he's just as likely as anyone else to have issues with their gender identity, but I could see why some of these male prisoners might be prepared to go to drastic lengths if there was even the slightest chance of being moved to a female prison frown


"I thought you are man, but
you are nice woman.

yay,

:R"

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Maybe he's just trying to give in to the inevitable and either: make big bucks or try to get himself into the womens quarters shrug

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Fire_Moose
SILVER Member since May 2007

Fire_Moose

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Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Total posts: 3597
Posted: Written by: FireTom



but I could see why some of these male prisoners might be prepared to go to drastic lengths if there was even the slightest chance of being moved to a female prison frown



and not only that but then who knows how the women will feel, would they be told this inmate used to be a man? would assults in the womens prison rise?

i think its ridiculous and should not be taken seriously, why should tax payers have to pay for this? maybe they will just prolong this trial until he kills himself.


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Rouge Dragon
BRONZE Member since Jul 2003

Rouge Dragon

Insert Champagne Here
Location: without class distinction

Total posts: 13215
Posted:I agree that he shouldnt.

Regardless of whether sex change surgery is a "medical necessity" or not, if the general population can't get tax or insurance breaks on it, then prisoners shouldnt be allowed to either.

If the law was to change deeming sex changed to be a "medical necessity" then it is a different story. But they haven't, so there's no point arguing that "what if"


i would have changed ***** to phallus, and claire to petey Petey

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

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Total posts: 1872
Posted:I figure this surgery is about as "elective" as being gay is a "lifestyle choice"

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:errm Poje - btw that's not me, you're quoting wink ubblol

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Fire_Moose
SILVER Member since May 2007

Fire_Moose

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Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Total posts: 3597
Posted:weird, wonder how i managed that

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gita
SILVER Member since Oct 2003

gita

.:*distracted by shiny things*:.
Location: brizvegas

Total posts: 3776
Posted:why should taxpayers pay for this surgery that people outside have to save for years to get (even if it is a "medical necessity")?? eek

do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good to eat!

if at first you do succeed, try not to look too astonished!

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:I don't get it either. The mere hearings etc. now cost more than it would to "house" him about 4 years... I really don't think that it's THAT much of a "necessity" anyways - he gets enough attention (t)his way already...

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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