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Mass. transgender inmate denied electrolysis

BOSTON — from A federal judge in Boston on Tuesday denied additional hair-removal treatments for a murderer who is seeking a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation, saying the inmate has failed to prove she will suffer “serious harm” without further electrolysis.

Michelle Kosilek also failed to prove that her rights have been violated by being denied hair-removal treatment, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf said. Wolf, however, said he may revisit the issue if more information comes to light in state Department of Correction documents.

Kosilek, formerly known as Robert, is serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Cheryl, in 1990. He legally changed his name to Michelle in 1993 and has been living as a woman in an all-male prison.

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.

Sulman also requested internal Department of Correction documents because agency officials have never explained why the electrolysis was stopped. Prisons lawyer Richard McFarland called the request for documents a “fishing expedition” designed to “find some kind of conspiracy.”

Wolf ruled in 2002 that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering sex-change surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005, claiming denial of the surgery was making her suicidal.

State prison officials oppose Kosilek’s request, saying it would create security problems.

Kosilek was in court Tuesday, but did not address the judge or speak publicly.


Robert Kosilek is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Cheryl, in 1990.

In 1993 Robert changed his name to Michelle, and has spent the last 16 years living life as a woman… in an all-male prison.

By 1995, Michelle had not only collected an astonishing number of ‘Marlboro Miles,’ but was also presented with the state pen’s first annual Miss Congeniality award.

Just kidding.

Still, when Robert began the transformation into Michelle he asked the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to finance his sex-change operation, and in 2002 brought a lawsuit against the state.

Presiding over that case was U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, who at the time ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but did not rule in favor of the sex-changing surgery.

Michelle sued again in 2005, claiming denial of the surgery was making her suicidal.

But while Michelle still awaits the ruling on her genital exchange (quite unlike the ones taking place in the prison shower), she is facing an issue that has long been the bane of menopausal women the world over: hairiness.

Kosilek was back in front of Judge Wolf today as she sought the court’s help in downgrading her body hair status from hirsute to just this side of wooly.

Wolf denied Kosilek’s request for “additional” hair removal treatments, saying the inmate had failed to prove she would suffer “serious harm” without further electrolysis. Michelle has benefited from seven treatments thus far, but the electrolysis sessions were discontinued last October.

And you thought your five o’clock shadow clashed with that strapless orange jumpsuit.

Kosilek’s attorney, Joseph Sulman, said Michelle has a “serious medical need” for the treatments, and the suspension of the hair removal sessions had negatively affected her mental health.

According to the Associated Press, an attorney for the Department of Corrections suggested depilatories and shaving as cheaper alternatives.

Sulman called shaving a “quintessential male activity,” but had no comment about the effectiveness of Nair.

I’m sure a few of the guys in ‘Cell Block A’ will pitch in and at least get her a bikini wax.


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