BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) The Department of Correction has announced plans to appeal the controversial ruling on an inmate's taxpayer-funded sex change.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the D.O.C. says that they came to the decision after a thorough review a landmark decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf which ordered the D.O.C. to provide sexual reassignment surgery to inmate Michelle Kosilek. Wolf found that prison officials had violated Kosilek's Eighth Amendment right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's gender-identity disorder.
"Our responsibilities lie with providing certain levels of medical treatment and keeping the inmates in our care and the public at large safe. We believe appealing this decision will allow us to meet those critical responsibilities," reads the statement.
Also in the statement, the D.O.C. voices "legitimate safety concerns" that trained correctional professionals believe will arise if the reassignment surgery is performed.
State Senator Bruce Tarr spoke with FOX 25's Maria Stephanos on Wednesday shortly after the news broke about the state's plans to appeal.
Tarr says that similar cases have been taken up in the circuit court of appeals and that the courts have reached the same decision.
"The appeals court said, 'You have to make some accomodation for this gender-identity disorder, you have to deal with it, you can't ignore it, but you don't have to go to the extreme of providing gender reassignment surgery,'" says Tarr.
The state senator adds that those prior cases are why he feels an appeal is well-taken in the Kosilek case.
"I think an appeals court, looking at this case objectively, will say the state has met its obligation and doesn't have to go further despite the fact that there are Eighth Amendment guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment in play here," says Tarr, who also says that withholding sexual reassignment surgery is not cruel and unusual punishment.
Kosilek, 63, was born as a man, but lives as a woman inside an all-male prison. He is serving time for the 1990 murder of his wife, Cheryl Kosilek.
Judge Wolf's decision is the first time a judge has ordered the Department of Correction to provide sexual reassignment surgery.