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Prisoner Michelle Kosilek requests electrolysis

Judge says state must consider it

Michelle L. Kosilek is seeking a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation.

Lisa Bul/Associated Press/file

Michelle L. Kosilek is seeking a taxpayer-funded sex-change operation.

A federal judge ordered the Department of Correction Wednesday to hire an independent specialist to determine whether electrolysis to remove facial hair is medically necessary for convicted murderer Michelle L. Kosilek as she waits to undergo taxpayer-financed gender reassignment surgery.

In a six-page ruling, US Chief Judge Mark Wolf also ordered the department and lawyers for the convicted killer to file legal papers on whether the judge has the power to put the surgery on hold.

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In September, Wolf ruled that Kosilek, who identified as Robert Kosilek when he strangled his wife, Cheryl McCaul, in 1990, is entitled to the surgery because it is a medically necessary treatment for her gender identity disorder.

But the Patrick administration has decided to appeal Wolf’s ruling and has asked that the surgery be delayed while the potentially lengthy appellate process unfolds.

Wolf wrote that if he refuses to delay the surgery, the Department of Correction will have essentially lost its chance to put a stop to it.

At the same time, he said, he has to weigh Kosilek’s health and need for the medical intervention.

Kosilek’s lawyers have argued that she needs electrolysis as part of the treatment for gender identity disorder.

Wolf said he needs more information before deciding that question and has set a hearing for Nov. 19.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com.
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