Pretty in Prison: Cross-Dressing Wife-Killer Wants Smooth Legs

Robert Kosilek following his arraignment in 1990, R: Kosilek, now known as Michelle, is seen in 1993.

BOSTON (CBS/AP) Hair ye, hair ye! A convicted killer who wants a sex change operation will settle for more hair removal treatments for the time being – if a judge will allow it.

Michelle Kosilek, who was born as Robert, has been waiting for years for a judge in Boston to rule on a request for a sex-change operation, and is now asking for electrolysis.

Kosilek has been living as a woman in an all-male prison in Norfolk, Mass., after being sentenced to life for the murder of his wife, Cheryl, in 1990.

Prison officials oppose Kosilek's request for surgery, saying the sex change would pose security problems.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled in 2002 that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering surgery.

On Tuesday, Wolf will hear a request from Kosilek to get additional electrolysis treatments.

Michelle Kosilek was an addiction counselor named Robert Kosilek, when he was convicted of killing of his wife. Kosilek dumped the body in a car outside a local shopping mall. Kosilek went missing after the murder, but ultimately was captured in New Rochelle, NY.

In 1993, while in prison, he legally changed his name to Michelle. Since then, Kosilek has been fighting with prison officials to complete his transformation into a woman.

Kosilek wanted the Massachusetts Department of Correction to pay for the sex-change operation.

Kosilek sued for the second time in 2005, even though he had been receiving hormones at the prison. The prisoner said hormones and other treatments have not been enough to relieve his suffering, and said he would likely commit suicide if he does not get the surgery.

During Kosilek's trial, Massachusetts Correction Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy said that if Kosilek has the surgery, prison officials believe Kosilek could end up being a target of sexual assault in prison.

"The safety and security concerns are enormous," Dennehy testified.

The case has become fodder for radio talk shows, where the topic of whether the state should pay for a sex-change operation for a convicted murderer often attracts outraged callers.

In addition to the cost — estimates for sex-change operations are in the $10,000 to $20,000 range — prison officials cite the safety risks of housing a male inmate who has been transformed into a female.

Sen. Bruce E. Tarr of Gloucester, Mass., has filed legislation barring the state from paying for the "sex reassignment" surgeries.

(AP Photo)
Michelle Kosilek

Courts in several states have ordered prison systems to allow transgender inmates to receive psychotherapy and, in some cases, hormone shots. Some states allow inmates to continue hormone treatments if they are already on hormones when they begin their sentences.

But most do not allow inmates to initiate hormone therapy while in prison, and many states do not have any written policy for the treatment of transgender inmates.

After judge Wolf's 2002 ruling, the corrections department allowed Kosilek to receive female hormones and laser hair removal. He was also given access to female undergarments and some makeup.