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Wolf noted that Kosilek’s gender-identity disorder has caused her such anguish that she has tried to castrate herself and twice tried to commit suicide.
Inmates in Colorado, California, Idaho and Wisconsin have sued unsuccessfully to try to get the surgery, making similar arguments that denying the procedure violates the U.S. Constitution’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Klein said Wolf’s ruling in the Kosilek case could help bolster the cases of other inmates, but it doesn’t mean every inmate will be able to get the surgery.
"A prisoner bears an incredibly high burden in a lawsuit to seek court-ordered medical treatment because prisoners have to prove (prison officials) have shown deliberate indifference to their medical needs," Klein said. "Not everybody will be able to prove it."
Kosilek’s attorney, Frances Cohen, called the decision courageous and thoughtful.
"We feel very grateful that the judge listened very carefully to the medical experts and has given Michelle Kosilek what the prison doctors had recommended," Cohen said.
In a telephone interview last year with The Associated Press, Kosilek said the surgery is a medical necessity, not a frivolous desire to change her appearance.
"Everybody has the right to have their health care needs met, whether they are in prison or out on the streets," Kosilek said. "People in the prisons who have bad hearts, hips or knees have surgery to repair those things. My medical needs are no less important or more important than the person in the cell next to me."
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