By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com August 31 2002 12:00 AM ET
An inmate in Massachusetts who claims he is a woman trapped in a man's body should receive treatment for gender identity disorder but cannot force the state to pay for a sex-change operation, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Michelle Kosilek, formerly known as Robert Kosilek, was convicted in 1993 of strangling his wife. He claimed he was being denied adequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and prohibits unnecessary infliction of pain on a prisoner. His lawsuit against the department of correction was heard in federal court during a nonjury trial in February. Kosilek, 53, who has legally changed his name, claims he suffers continuous depression, anxiety, and a high level of stress as a result of being denied treatment. U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled Wednesday that although Kosilek had proved he has a serious medical condition gender identity disorder that has not been adequately treated, he had not proved that correction commissioner Michael Maloney had shown "deliberate indifference." Wolf ordered Maloney to allow medical professionals to evaluate and recommend treatment for Kosilek, including, at a minimum, psychotherapy. If therapy does not appear to alleviate Kosilek's depression, Maloney should also consider allowing Kosilek to receive female hormones, he said.