In a system where all prisoners are equal, some prisoners are more equal than others. Despite the progression of the LGBT community, one very overlooked group is transgender prisoners. This Note explores a transgender prisoner’s rights to sex reassignment surgery. In 2012, a federal district judge held for the first time that a DOC prisoner must receive sex reassignment surgery. In a ten-year battle, Michelle Kosilek presented evidence that his Gender Identity Disorder was so severe that the only way to medically treat the condition was to have a sex reassignment surgery. This case presented new, unprecedented law regarding the medical rights of transgender prisoners. In examining Kosilek’s claim under the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, medical principles related specifically to transgender prisoners were presented to the court. This case is currently up on an appeal, and as a divisive issue, it could potentially end up in front of the United States Supreme Court. This Note examines the narrow holding of Kosilek, considers the role of public policy in Kosilek’s claim, and hypothesizes about the future of transgender prisoner litigation.
Julia K. Wykoff,
All Prisoners are Equal, but Some Prisoners are More Equal Than Others: An Inmate’s Right To Sex Reassignment Surgery After Kosilek v. Spencer, 889 F. Supp. 2d 190 (D. Mass. 2012),
S. Ill. U. L.J.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/siulj/vol39/iss1/8