US: Judge suspends gender reassignment order for trans woman prisoner, denies electrolysis

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A judge has suspended a previous order made in September, which ruled that a trans woman prisoner should receive gender reassignment surgery in treatment for gender dysphoria.

Judge Mark Wolf stayed the order, which had no deadline, and this will give the Department of Correction the time to appeal against it.

He also ruled that he would not order more hair-removal treatment for Michelle Kosilek, which she requested yesterday, that she had received treatment before, and that there were other, cheaper, alternatives to the electrolysis.

The Department would also be responsible for deciding on who would perform the operation, and where it would take place, Reuters reported.

Judge Wolf, of Boston, Massachusetts ruled in September that Ms Kosilek would be given gender reassignment surgery in prison, as the “only adequate treatment” of her gender dysphoria. He also ruled that her legal costs should be covered.

He said: “there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care.”

It was revealed on 26 September, that the Department of Correction intended on appealing against the decision by Judge Wolf.

She also requested that the court refer to her using only female pronouns, given that, despite being in an all-male prison, she is living as female.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Ms Kosilek previously filed a motion requesting the court to prepare a surgeon and location for the surgery, as well as security and transportation plans for moving her to and from the hospital, despite the appeal.

Her attorneys had previously offered to waive their fees, excluding out-of-pocket expenses, on the condition that the Department of Correction did not appeal against Judge Wolf’s ruling.

Ms Kosilek received some electrolysis in 2008, but in 2009, Judge Wolf denied two requests from Ms Kosilek for further treatment, saying that she had access to other, cheaper, methods of temporary hair-removal. 

Judge Wolf said that more electrolysis for Ms Kosilek would need to be part of a new, separate case, for the court to consider it.

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