Tax dollars for murderer’s sex change operation! by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog. Check it out too.

Should a murderer in prison for life be entitled to an elective surgical procedure at taxpayers’ expense?  Fifty state legislators have asked the state Department of Corrections to appeal Judge Mark Wolf’s decision that the Commonwealth should have to pay for incarcerated murderer  Michelle (formerly Robert) Kosilek’s  sex change operation.  $50,000 or more for a procedure that no insurer or third party payer will fund for any individual inside prison or out? Stupefying!  Media and taxpayers like are responding with outrage.

Wolf’s rationale is that the anguish Kosilek experiences from being a transgender amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment,” as barred by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Globe columnnist Yvonne Abraham is the only writer I’ve found who says he made the right decision.  Attorney Wendy Murphy notes that, “They can’t vote, bear arms, march in protests, etc., although like anyone in state custody, they are entitled to “necessary” medical care, but not the care of their choice.”

photo ABC News

This man strangled his wife, Cheryl, ten years ago and has been dealing with the transgender issue all that time. (Mark Wolf has been dealing with the case for a decade.) He apparently has tried both to castrate himself and commit suicide.  Gender identity disorder is a recognized mental health problem.  But the state has already included in his/her medical care the provision of hormone treatment therapy, along with counselling.

What’s next?  A patient demanding a nose job for “a deviated septum” which is depressing him?  A breast enhancement because diminished self image is causing mental anguish? What about the other mental disorders that patients suffer from?  Couldn’t we argue that most inmates suffer from mental disorders?  Should taxpayers pay for every patient’s every medical wish? Gender reassignment surgery is not indicated in all transgender situations. Other transgenders have to stop at hormone and psychotherapy because they can’t afford the costly sex reassignment surgery.  Should a murderer be entitled to more than they?  Prisoners often try to con the system, sometimes to the point of self-mutilation to get their way. Do we really want to encourage such absurdities?

Massachusetts can take pride in many of the “firsts” that happened here.  Judge Wolf’s decision in this case is, by contrast, a cause for embarrassment.

I welcome your comments in the section below.

3 Responses to Tax dollars for murderer’s sex change operation! by Marjorie Arons-Barron

  1. C R Krieger says:

    Based upon his record, and my unwillingness to read through all the case file, I am giving Federal Judge Mark Wolf the benefit of the doubt here.  What is it that he knows that I don’t know?

    But, I do think that Ms Arons-Barrons hits on an interesting point—”Couldn’t we argue that most inmates suffer from mental disorders?”  That could be an important insight, but our method of dealing with inmates does not seem to reflect said insight.  Personnally, at some level I am happy we don’t.  I would hate to see us adopt the old Soviet view that disagrement with the State is a mental disorder.  On the other hand, is what we are doing working, given our relatively high level of incarceration?

    In the mean time, the question is, where does the convict go after surgery?  What does our years of openness to the LGBT community tell us about what population would be the best place for this person?  I see ten more years of [expensive] litigation.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. C R Krieger says:

    Well, while I am awaiting moderation, and unable to edit, I will note here it is ‘Ms Marjorie Arons-Barron”, without the extra trailing “s”.  My error, my apology.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  3. Marjorie Arons-Barron says:

    Thanks, Cliff. I have the utmost respect for Mark Wolf and the honorable career he has had. I just think he is off base on this one. I just don’t understand how this can be medically necessary when other therapies are available and being provided. Unlike surgical treatment for cancer, this procedure doesn’t seem to be a life-and-death situation. How many other prisoners will be encouraged to use their own psychic turmoil to secure treatments that they wish to have? The reductio ad absurdum is the individual who commits a crime to get to prison so he/she can request a taxpayer-funded particular treatment. I’d like to think that would never happen, but, then, did we see the Kosilek case coming?