Judge suspends sex change surgery for man convicted of killing wife

A federal judge announced today that he would suspend a taxpayer-funded sex change operation for a man convicted of killing his wife.

Robert Kosilek sat in Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford in January 1993. Kosilek is seeking state-funded surgery to complete his transformation to Michelle Kosilek. —Lisa Bul’AP

US District Judge Mark Wolf, who ordered earlier this year that Michelle Kosilek must be allowed the surgery, said he would suspend his order until an appeal of his ruling by the Patrick administration.

Wolf, who has called his ruling on the surgery “unpopular and misunderstood,’’ also rejected a request for electrolysis treatment for Kosilek, saying that would have to come as part of a new case.

When the inmate was known as Robert Kosilek, he strangled his wife, Cheryl, in Mansfield in 1990 and dumped her body in a car at a mall in North Attleborough. He fled to New York State before being arrested.


He was convicted as Robert Kosilek but appeared at trial dressed like a woman. He legally took the name Michelle in 1993 and has been living as a woman in an all-male prison in Norfolk since the conviction.

In September, Wolf issued a landmark ruling that taxpayers must pay for Kosilek to undergo sex reassignment surgery for a transsexual prison inmate because the surgery is the only adequate care for the inmate’s serious mental illness, gender identity disorder.

Kosilek first sued the Department of Correction in 2000, arguing that its refusal to pay for a sex change violated her Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The department has consistently opposed Kosilek’s request.

Wolf ruled that the department has violated the Eighth Amendment.

The Patrick administration has appealed Wolf’s decision to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Wolf advised the state it will probably have to pay for the attorney’s fees in the case, now about $800,000.

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