Did you hear the one about the transgender prisoner serving a life sentence for murder who wanted a sex change? It looks like he's about to get one, and Massachusetts taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for the whole shebang. Get ready for the explosion in 3 ... 2 ...
What? We're still here? Maybe that's because the reason U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf has ruled that Michelle Kosilek, who was born Robert Kosilek, deserves the controversial surgery makes a whole lot of sense.
It's about the basic rights we afford our prisoners here in America that sets us apart from other, more barbaric countries. We provide our prisoners with necessary medical care. And that's what this gender reassignment surgery is. Because gender identity disorder isn't a choice. It's as the name describes, a disorder, recognized by reputable medical associations.
There may be people in our society who refuse to accept the science behind it, but the government is charged with stepping beyond personal beliefs in these matters. It doesn't matter what a judge THINKS is a medical issue. What matters is what falls under a doctor's description of a medical issue.
And it's all there, in black and white, on the website of our own National Institutes of Health:
Gender identity disorder is a conflict between a person's physical gender and the gender he or she identifies as. For example, a person identified as a boy may actually feel and act like a girl. The person is very uncomfortable with the gender they were born.
That's what Robert Kosilek was diagnosed with after landing in the prison system in the early '90s for murdering his wife, Cheryl. Since then, Robert has become Michelle, using hormone treatments to function largely as a woman.
Gender reassignment isn't just the next logical step. It's also a means to stop her suicide attempts, which, frankly, as a murderer who is dealing with a life sentence, is her easy way out. It may be cheaper for the state, but then what is the point of trying to punish murder with a life sentence?
Because Michelle Kosilek will still be punished, sex change or not. She will still have to live out her life in prison. Really, this whole thing doesn't change any of the disgust I have for a woman who takes another's life. But it does set several precedents.
First, and foremost, this ruling proves that science comes out ahead of rhetoric in determining what qualifies as medical care in this country. Second, the ruling acknowledges that we are still a country where even scum in prison are treated like human beings because we are a civilized nation.
What do you think of the court ruling that will allow this prisoner to get a sex change?
Image via New Rochelle Police Department