Allow Transgender Inmate to Receive Sex-Reassignment Surgery

Target: Massachusetts Department of Corrections Commissioner Luis S. Spencer

Goal: Allow transgender inmate Michelle Kosilek to receive sex-reassignment surgery

Michelle Kosilek, a transgender inmate in a Massachusetts prison, has been fighting for years to receive sex-reassignment surgery. She recently won a court case allowing the surgery, but the state continues to refuse it to her as it appeals the case. Kosilek was convicted in 1990, then named Robert, for the murder of his wife. Kosilek now stays in a male prison, despite identifying as a woman. She has been treated for anxiety caused by her gender identity disorder, and has twice attempted suicide. District Court Judge Mark Wolf ruled that because of Kosilek’s ‘intense mental anguish,’ she has a serious need for sex-reassignment surgery. It is the duty of the state to provide inmates with required medical care, which includes this surgery in Kosilek’s case. The state’s appeal to refuse this care means that Kosilek is required to continue to wait before having relief from her anxiety. Withholding this treatment means the state is withholding adequate medical care from Kosilek. This is a violation of her Eighth Amendment right. The state’s appeal and inaction will mean Kosilek will continue to suffer.

Critics suspect that Kosilek is being denied the surgery not because of the cost to taxpayers, but instead because of public opinion of trangendered individuals. Judge Wolf said in his decision of the case that Kosilek is denied the surgery ‘because of the belief that the idea of providing such treatment for a transsexual who murdered his [sic] wife is offensive to many members of the community.’ While it is true that Kolisek is convicted of murder, it is also true that she is a citizen who deserves the right to health care. Her incarceration does not deny her this right. Demand that Kolisek be allowed to receive sex-reassignment surgery today.


Dear Mr. Spencer:

Recently, transgender inmate Michelle Kosilek won a court case that would allow her to receive sex-reassignment surgery. However, she is being denied this surgery as the Department of Corrections appeals the decision. Ms. Kosilek suffers from anxiety and mental anguish as a result of her gender identity disorder, and she is being denied relief from this.

I ask you to allow Michelle Koselik to receive sex-reassignment surgery. The surgery is vital to her mental health, and therefore a seriously needed medical operation. Denying her this surgery is denying her right to health. Although she is imprisoned for a serious crime, Ms. Koselik is still a citizen whose rights should not be taken from her. She needs the surgery and denying it to her is unconstitutional and morally wrong.


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