Judge gives Massachusetts time to appeal inmate sex-change order

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 20, 2012 1:37 PM

BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge suspended an order on Tuesday calling for Massachusetts to pay for a convicted murderer's sex-change operation, in a move that will give the state time to appeal the September ruling.

The case revolves around an inmate serving a life term who has legally changed his name to Michelle Kosilek and sued the state's Department of Corrections 12 years ago to force it to provide gender reassignment surgery.

Judge Mark Wolf of U.S. District Court in Boston agreed to stay his earlier order requiring the state to pay for Kosilek's surgery, although that order did not set a deadline and left it to the state to determine who would perform the operation and where it would be performed.

The plaintiff, born Robert Kosilek, has suffered from gender identity disorder since childhood, according to court papers. He married a counselor he met while in drug rehabilitation but murdered her in 1990 when she caught him wearing her clothes.

He was convicted of that murder in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Kosilek is incarcerated at a prison for male inmates and Wolf has used male pronouns to refer to Kosilek throughout the court proceedings.

He ruled in September that the state had violated Kosilek's constitutional rights by denying him the procedure. Corrections Department medical personnel had recommended the surgery, saying it was medically necessary to treat his gender identity disorder.

(Reporting By Scott Malone; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Cynthia Osterman)