Kosilek v. Spencer
Update, February 2014 - The Commonwealth's request for rehearing en banc was granted by the Court. Oral argument is set for May 8.
January 17, 2014 - GLAD welcomed the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Commonwealth cannot deny Michelle Kosilek, an incarcerated transgender woman, gender reassignment surgery to treat her severe gender identity disorder. Read GLAD's full statement on the ruling and see Kosilek v. Spencer: Questions and Answers.
The case was argued before the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on April 2, 2013, after the Commonwealth appealed Wolf’s ruling. Joseph L. Sulman and David Brody of the Law Office of Joseph L. Sulman are representing Kosilek.
Kosilek was denied reassignment surgery by the Department of Corrections (DOC) against the recommendations of multiple doctors hired by DOC. In ruling last fall that DOC violated Kosilek’s 8th amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf found that DOC engaged in a pattern of “pretense, pretext and prevarication” to deny her treatment.
That pattern of pretense, pretext, and prevarication, GLAD believes cannot be allowed to erode core constitutional commitments to the health and safety of anyone who is incarcerated including, in this case, a transgender woman serving a life sentence. The denial of necessary medical care to Michelle Kosilek amounted to nothing more than transgender exceptionalism.
Like the district court before it, the First Circuit affirmed in it's ruling that constitutional rights belong to everyone.
GLAD filed an amicus brief in the appeal describing the pervasive stigma and discrimination associated with transgender people in general, and with gender reassignment surgery, specifically - and has since taken on the role of co-counsel in the case following the departure of Kosilek's long-term attorney, Frances S. Cohen, from her firm Bingham McCutcheon.