BOSTON – A man serving a life sentence for murdering his wife is asking a federal judge to order the state to pay for a sex-change operation, arguing that denying him the surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
A psychiatrist testified Tuesday that he believes Robert Kosilek – who now goes by Michelle – will commit suicide if state corrections officials refuse to allow the surgery and Kosilek is unable to complete the transformation into a woman.
Kosilek, 57, was convicted of strangling his wife, Cheryl, in 1990.
In 2002, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender identity disorder, but he stopped short of ordering the state to pay for a sex-change operation. Kosilek had testified to having gender identity disorder since age 3, attempting suicide twice and attempting self-castration.
Since then, Kosilek has received psychotherapy, female hormone treatments and laser hair removal.
Kosilek sued the Department of Correction for the second time last year, saying psychiatrists, including two of the department’s experts, had determined a sex-change operation was medically necessary.
Attorneys on both sides made opening statements Tuesday in a trial expected to last as long as two weeks. Kosilek opted to have the case heard by Wolf instead of a jury.