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Your Tax Dollars At Work

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Denise Lavoie reports for AP:

A ruling ordering Massachusetts officials to provide sex-change surgery for a transgender inmate takes prisoners' constitutional rights to adequate medical care to "new heights," a government lawyer argued Tuesday to a federal appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled last year that the state Department of Correction must provide sex-reassignment surgery for Michelle Kosilek, who is serving a life sentence for murder.

On Tuesday, Department of Correction lawyer Richard McFarland told the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Kosilek has received adequate treatment for gender-identity disorder, including female hormone treatments, laser hair removal and psychotherapy. Those treatments, he said, have alleviated the stress and anxiety felt by Kosilek, who has been "highly functional" in prison and has not attempted suicide during the 20 years she has been in state prison.

"There was an effective treatment for that disorder," McFarland said. Wolf's ruling, he said, "expands the Eighth Amendment to new heights."

Kosilek's lawyer, Frances Cohen, however, told the three-judge panel that severe gender-identity disorder is a debilitating condition characterized by suicide attempts, castration and self-mutilation.

"She suffers ... mental anguish on a daily basis" and had attempted suicide before trial, said Cohen.

Kosilek, born Robert, was convicted in the 1990 murder of wife Cheryl Kosilek.

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