January 21, 2014

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman on First Circuit Court Ruling in Favor of Massachusetts Transgender Inmate's Right to Sex Reassignment Surgery

“We commend the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision which concluded that denying an incarcerated transgender woman sex reassignment surgery is a violation of the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The court ruled that Michelle Kosilek must receive treatment for her gender identity disorder, just as any incarcerated person must receive treatment for a diagnosed medical condition.

“This ruling sends a strong message. Treatment for gender identity disorder must be provided on the same terms as treatment for other medical conditions. The constitutional rights of incarcerated transgender people cannot be denied. Withholding medically necessary treatment is a clear encroachment on those rights.”

The 2-1 decision in the case Kosilek v. Spencer was handed down on January 17, 2014.