Boston appeals court to hear inmate’s sex change appeal

michelle kosilek transgender inmate boston sex change surgery robert kosilek
Robert Kosilek, now known as Michelle, is seen in January 1993 while on trial for the 1990 murder of her wife. (AP Images)

The question of whether Massachusetts’ prison system is obligated to pay for a convicted murderer’s sex-change operation will go before the Court of Appeals in Boston next month.

The court said that on April 2 it would hear Massachusetts’ case that it was not obligated to pay for the surgery for an inmate serving a life term.

The 63-year-old inmate, who has legally changed his name to Michelle Kosilek, sued the state’s Department of Corrections more than a decade ago, trying to force it to pay for gender reassignment surgery.

The plaintiff, born Robert Kosilek, has suffered from gender-identity disorder since childhood. He was convicted in 1992 of murdering his wife, a counselor he had met while he was in drug rehabilitation, after she caught him wearing her clothes.

Judge Mark Wolf of the District Court in Boston ruled in September that the state had violated Kosilek’s rights by denying the procedure, noting that Corrections Department medical personnel had recommended it as necessary treatment for his gender-identity disorder.

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