Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Kosilek should not be granted sex change surgery

By Steven Gillard

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Editor’s note: Because Kosilek identifies as female, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian will refer to her as such.

On Jan. 17, a Massachusetts federal appeals court upheld the decision to grant Michelle Kosilek—a murderer, formerly known as Robert Kosilek—a taxpayer-funded sex change. Kosilek, 64, strangled her wife, Cheryl McCaul, in 1990, following an altercation between the two. She left McCaul’s body in the trunk of her car in the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro. On May 24, 1990, Kosilek was stopped by a police officer for speeding in New York. She was found to be operating under the influence of alcohol, and later admitted to the police that she murdered her wife.

Kosilek was brought back to Massachusetts, tried and convicted of first degree murder. She received life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Throughout her incarceration, Kosilek has continuously sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. In 2002, Kosilek won a case requiring the state to provide her with treatment for gender identity disorder, eventually including hormone replacement therapy, psychotherapy and laser hair removal. In 2006, Kosilek sued the MDOC for violation of her Eighth Amendment rights, claiming that the refusal of the MDOC to provide her with sex reassignment surgery was a form of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In September 2012, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled that inaction by the MDOC was a violation of Kosilek’s constitutional rights and that she must be provided with sex reassignment surgery at the expense of the state. The MDOC appealed Wolf’s ruling, which was upheld by a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 17 in a 2-1 decision, in which it was claimed that Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment rights entitled her to “medically necessary treatment.”

On Jan. 31, the MDOC announced that it would appeal to the full panel of judges of the same court.

The justification given for the surgery is appalling. While I understand that Kosilek suffers from gender identity disorder, and make no claims to understand the psychological torment undoubtedly caused by such a condition, that Kosilek’s desire to be a woman requires “medically necessary” treatment remains an audacious hyperbole of the situation at hand.

Kosilek, who has lived 64 years of her life as a male, will not die if she must live the rest of her life as one. If she were suffering from a disease that were actually life-threatening, then I might be inclined to agree that providing her with treatment that may save her life is actually “medically necessary.” Then again, maybe I wouldn’t be, since she is a murderer and a person whose life my tax dollars should not be spent to preserve. To tell the citizens of Massachusetts that their hard-earned money must go toward providing a 64-year-old convict with a vagina is an absolute outrage.

If Kosilek were not in prison for life without the possibility of parole, her accusations that the state has violated her rights might have might be slightly more practical. Maybe, if she were to be released from prison, she would like to start a family as a mother. Maybe she would like to become a wife. Maybe she would like to restart her life with a fixed identity, without the burdens produced by gender dysphoria.

But she will die in prison.

Whether or not Kosilek remains biologically male or becomes female, her gender will have no bearing on the rest of her life, so the state should absolutely not spend taxpayer money to provide a murderer with female parts that she will never use.

The argument appears to be that sexual reassignment surgery would alleviate her of mental suffering, but such an argument seems inconsistent. Kosilek was justly sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of her wife, yet there is concern about her mental state? To condemn Kosilek to spend her life rotting in a jail cell and then voice objections over her psychological well-being is ludicrous. You can put a man behind bars for over 20 years, but God forbid you force him to live the rest of his celibate life with a penis.

Kosilek’s case represents an overextension of constitutional rights, and sets a dangerous precedent. A murderer is a murderer, whether he or she is psychologically distraught or not. I have a problem with my money being used to make the life of Kosilek, a cold-blooded murderer, more comfortable, as any reasonable person should.

Steven Gillard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


5 Responses to “Kosilek should not be granted sex change surgery”

  1. Joe Gillard, Jr. on February 27th, 2014 1:13 pm

    Controversial decisions by our courts call for loud voices to our elected officials. Change in our penal system is long overdue. Crimes will continue to be committed until the criminal comes to the realization that punishment is the consequence. Only then will the penal system become a deterrent. It is our elected officials that must make changes that are called for by the people, their employer. Our judicial systems distribution of punishment must be fair, equitable, and consistent…..and must make sense. Giving a convicted criminal rights to change gender does not make sense. When will they get to vote again ?

  2. beneficii on February 27th, 2014 2:42 pm

    > Kosilek, who has lived 64 years of her life as a male, will not die if she must live the rest of her life as one. If she were suffering from a disease that were actually life-threatening, then I might be inclined to agree that providing her with treatment that may save her life is actually “medically necessary.”

    Your definition of medical necessity is quite narrow. Here is a more accurate definition:

    > Medically Necessary – those services (1) which are reasonably calculated to prevent, diagnose, prevent the worsening of, alleviate, correct, or cure conditions in the Enrollee that endanger life, cause suffering or pain, cause physical deformity or malfunction, threaten to cause or to aggravate a disability, or result in illness or infirmity; and (2) for which there is no comparable medical service or site of service available or suitable for the Enrollee requesting the service that is more conservative or less costly; and (3) are of a quality that meets generally accepted standards of health care…” Massachusetts Contract, pages 6-13.

    This treatment is recognized as medically necessary for certain cases of severe GID/gender dysphoria in medical reference texts, including the Merck Manual, and in statements released by major health organizations:

    In this case, sex reassignment surgery had been ordered by the prison’s own doctors.

  3. Rose on February 27th, 2014 5:57 pm

    This article seems to think 1) that hormone replacement therapy is “giving someone girl parts” when really it mostly affects things like fat distribution. and 2) that the only reason trans people transition is to have sex, which is not only wrong, its baffling and offensive.

    I also find the preocupation with Kosilek’s sex life, or lack there of, a little bit objectifying.

    Just because you will “never have sex again” doesn’t make your gender irrelevant. I think these two misconceptions put together are really hilarious because estrogen SIGNIFICANT LOWERS most people’s libidos. So if you really want her not to have sex (which is clearly a big concern here) give her the estrogen.

    Also, Kosilek has NOT lived 64 years of her life as man. She has previously been on HRT.

    Also, by your reasoning, we should be denying depressed prisoners antidepressants and denying prisoners with chronic accute pain painkillers. It’s not going to hurt them to go without those, and you don’t care about prisoners’ well being. but that would OBVIOUSLY be morally wrong and cruel and inhumane punishment.

  4. Anonymous on March 2nd, 2014 5:31 pm

    Good for you!

    It’s about time someone voiced some common sense.

    I’m a transgender woman, and even I don’t support this murderer getting this operation. Let her rot in her cell and think about what she did to her wife.

    Only a limited number of these surgeries are even done each year in this country, and those spots need to go to to save the lives of the deserving, not be used by murderers who take lives.

  5. Patricia on September 12th, 2014 1:25 am

    You say “I have a problem with my money being used to make the life of Kosilek, a cold-blooded murderer, more comfortable, as any reasonable person should.”
    I am a reasonable person. I respectfully disagree with your opinion. Also, I have been paying taxes longer than you have been alive. Do you pay taxes? Because you seemed really concerned about “your” money….

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