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Transgender inmate to recoup legal fees

Sept. 17, 2012 at 8:00 PM

BOSTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A judge in Massachusetts ruled a transgender inmate convicted of murdering his wife is entitled to reimbursement by the state for years of legal bills.

The legal team for Michelle Lynne Kosilek was told by U.S. District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf Sunday to submit a suggested bill to the court by Thursday, the Boston Herald reported. Kosilek has waged a legal battle for his sex change since 2000 and Wolf said the tab "is likely to be large."

"Kosilek has prevailed on his claim that [the Department of Correction] has violated his Eighth Amendment rights [against cruel and unusual punishment] and is continuing to do so," Wolf wrote in his ruling. "Therefore, he is eligible to be awarded his reasonable attorneys' fees and costs."

Wolf also ruled on Sept. 4 that taxpayers pay for Kosilek's sex-reassignment surgery.

Kosilek, 63, born Robert Kosilek, is serving a life sentence for the 1990 strangulation of his 36-year-old wife Cheryl.

Kosilek, formerly of Mansfield, began hormone treatments while in prison and has developed breasts.

She has survived two suicide attempts and has threatened to castrate herself over her gender identity.

In his earlier ruling, Wolf said Kosilek suffers from gender identity disorder and is "a man who truly believes that he is a female cruelly trapped in a male body," and that sex-reassignment surgery was the only solution to Kosilek's "serious medical need."

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