Civil Rights

Federal Judge Apologizes for Delay in Ruling on Mass. Inmate's Sex-Change Surgery Suit

For years, Michelle Kosilek has been living as a woman in a men’s prison in Massachusetts, with the help of female hormone and hair-removal treatments.

Now 62, the former Robert Kosilek was convicted in 1993 of killing his wife three years earlier. Kosilek wants a sex-change operation and has been trying for over a decade to force the state Department of Correction to pay for one, according to the Associated Press.

Kosilek first filed suit in federal court in Boston 11 years ago, winning a ruling that required the state to provide some treatment but not ordering the surgery. A subsequent suit Kosilek filed in 2005 has not been resolved, resulting in an apology today for the delay from the federal judge hearing the case, another Associated Press article reports.

After a recent ruling by the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerning another transgender Massachusetts inmate’s hormone treatment, it appears unlikely that prison officials will prevail on their concern that allowing Kosilek’s surgery would create a security issue by putting a woman in a male prison.

But if Kosilek wins the argument that health concerns require the sex-change surgery, he would reportedly be the first inmate in the country to have the operation paid for by the government.

An earlier Associated Press article provides additional details.

Related coverage: “Transgender Inmate Asks Appellate Court to Require Calif. to Pay for Sex-Change Operation” “Transgender Law Grad Sues Oregon Over Hysterectomy Coverage Denial, Alleges Discrimination”

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