21 Aug 2014
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Should State Pay for Sex Changes for Inmates?

A federal judge's ruling Tuesday on a Massachusetts case is believed to be the first of its kind.

Should State Pay for Sex Changes for Inmates?

A convicted murderer will receive a state-funded sex-reassignment surgery because a federal judge has ruled it is the only way to treat her "serious medical need."

Massachusetts state prison officials must provide the surgery to Michelle Kosilek, who was convicted as Robert Kosilek for killing his wife in 1990. Kosilek was born a male but has received hormone treatments and lives in an all-male prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf is believed to be the first federal judge to order prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate, the Boston Globe reported.

Kosilek first sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago. Wolf ruled two years later that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but did not order surgery. The ruling yesterday stems from Kosilek suing again in 2005. 

Sex change operations can cost up to $20,000. Many insurance companies reject the surgery as elective. 

In his decision, Wolf stated that the surgery is the ‘‘only adequate treatment’’ for Kosilek and that ‘‘there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care,’’ the Globe reported.

Prison officials have argued that allowing Kosilek to have the surgery would make her a target for sexual assaults by other inmates.

What do you think of the decision? Is this Kosilek's constitutional right? 

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