Tax Dollars At Work: Will State Pay for Wife-Killer's Sex Change?

(AP Photo)
Michelle Kosilek

BOSTON (CBS/AP) For now, a Boston federal judge has denied a convicted killer's request to continue hair removal treatments, but the jury is still out on whether Massachusetts taxpayers will foot the bill for the convict's requested sex-change operation.

As for Michelle Kosilek's hairy legs, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf said Tuesday that he has not shown he will suffer "serious harm" without further electrolysis treatments. The judge said he may revisit the decision if more information comes to light in state Department of Correction documents.

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.

Kosilek was born as Robert, 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.

Wolf ruled in 2002 that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering taxpayer-funded surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005. Prison officials oppose Kosilek's request for surgery.

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

Michelle Kosilek was an addiction counselor named Robert Kosilek, when he was convicted of killing 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, N.Y.

Kosilek wanted the Massachusetts Department of Correction to pay for the sex-change operation to complete his transformation into a woman.

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.

August 10, 2008 - Pretty in Prison: Cross-Dressing Wife-Killer Wants Smooth Legs