Target: Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Goal: Allow inmate Michelle Kosilek to be moved to a women’s prison following her upcoming sex reassignment surgery
U.S. federal judge Mark Wolf recently ruled, for the first time ever, that the state must pay for the sex-reassignment surgery of a transgender woman inmate by the name of Michelle Kosilek. Kosilek was incarcerated 22 years ago after being convicted of the murder of Cheryl Kosilek, her wife at the time, when she was still living as a man. She has been living as a woman for twelve years now, and ten years ago judge Wolf ruled the state was responsible for paying for her hormone treatments. Kosilek contended this wasn’t enough, and that complete sex reassignment surgery constituted a medical need for her, meaning the state was required to pay for it, and medical experts at the prison have agreed: even after beginning hormone treatment, Kosilek’s gender issues caused her such severe distress that she attempted to castrate herself once and attempted suicide twice.
Now that Kosilek’s sex-reassignment surgery has been assured, concerns are being raised by officials and ex-officials in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections about where to she should be incarcerated afterwards. Currently, despite living as a woman and undergoing hormone treatments, Kosilek is incarcerated for life in a male prison. Kathleen Dennehy, former department commissioner, testified that having Kosilek undergo surgery would present insurmountable security concerns. However, some of these concerns might be surmounted if Kosilek were allowed to be moved to a women’s prison facility after her sex reassignment surgery is complete. Ask the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to give this possibility strong consideration as they decide what to do with Kosilek following completion of her surgery.
Dear Massachusetts Department of Corrections,
I have recently learned about Federal judge Mark Wolf’s ruling on the medical necessity of sex-reassignment surgery for Massachusetts inmate Michelle Kosilek. The ruling, which is the first of its kind, was based on the judgments of several medical professionals, including some who work for the Department of Corrections. However, concerns have been raised by former employees and others about the security risks presented by such a surgery, which former commissioner Kathleen Dennehy described as “insurmountable.” Although these concerns are certainly legitimate, it is my belief in this case that they might be at least minimized if Kosilek were allowed to be moved to a women’s prison facility after her sex-reassignment surgery is complete. Certainly, this movement might present its own risks and problems, but they are considerably lesser than the risks of keeping someone who identifies as a woman and has female genitalia in a men’s prison for the rest of her life.
I urge you to strongly consider the option of moving Michelle Kosilek to a women’s prison as you decide what to do with her following the completion of her surgery. To do otherwise would put Kosilek at an incredibly massive risk of assault and/or rape from male inmates, violating her constitutional and human rights.
[Your Name Here]