Transgender inmate denied electrolysis
BOSTON -- A federal judge in Boston on Tuesday denied additional hair-removal treatments for a murderer who is seeking a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation, saying the inmate has failed to prove she will suffer "serious harm" without further electrolysis.
Michelle Kosilek also failed to prove that her rights have been violated by being denied hair-removal treatment, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf said. Wolf, however, said he may revisit the issue if more information comes to light in state Department of Correction documents.
Kosilek, formerly known as Robert, is serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Cheryl, in 1990. He legally changed his name to Michelle in 1993 and has been living as a woman in an all-male prison.
Kosilek's lawyer argued in court that there is "serious medical need" for the treatments, which were discontinued in October after seven sessions. The attorney, Joseph Sulman, said halting the treatment has negatively affected Kosilek's mental health.
A Department of Correction lawyer said there are cheaper alternatives for hair removal, including depilatories and shaving.
Sulman countered that shaving is a "quintessential male" activity.
Sulman also requested internal Department of Correction documents because agency officials have never explained why the electrolysis was stopped. Prisons lawyer Richard McFarland called the request for documents a "fishing expedition" designed to "find some kind of conspiracy."
Wolf ruled in 2002 that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering sex-change surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005, claiming denial of the surgery was making her suicidal.
State prison officials oppose Kosilek's request, saying it would create security problems.
Kosilek was in court Tuesday, but did not address the judge or speak publicly.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)