US: Appeals court to hear arguments around inmate gender reassignment case

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The US Circuit Court of Appeals is to hear arguments around the case of a trans woman prisoner who was granted gender reassignment surgery as treatment for her gender dysphoria.

Judge Mark Wolf, of Massachusetts ruled in September that Michelle 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.

Upon ruling on the surgery, Judge Wolf said: “there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care.”

Prison officials appealing the ruling will argue that they have security concerns, and are worried that they won’t be able to protect Kosilek in prison if she is given the surgery.

The 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals is due to hear the oral arguments on Tuesday morning, reports the Associated Press.

Kosilek’s 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.

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

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.

The US state of Massachusetts has found six out-of-state surgeons willing to perform gender reassignment on a trans woman prisoner allowed to have the surgery in prison.

Michelle Kosilek identifies as female but is incarcerated in an male-only prison. She was previously known as Robert, was married to Cheryl Kosilek, and was convicted of murdering her in 1990.

She received a life sentence, with no parole, had attempted to take her own life, and to self-castrate since being locked up in the all male prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts.

Earlier in January, Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly mocked the physical appearance of Ms Kosilek, repeatedly calling her ‘he’ and joking that she isn’t attractive enough to be in danger of being physically assaulted in prison.