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Entries in Gender Reassignment (3)

Monday
Nov192012

Transgender Inmate Michelle Kosilek Fighting for Electrolysis

WCVB/ABC News(BOSTON) -- A convicted wife killer, who has been living as a woman in an all-male prison facility in Massachusetts, is fighting for electrolysis treatments while the Department of Corrections appeals a judge's earlier decision to grant the inmate gender reassignment surgery.

Lawyers for Michelle Kosilek, 63, who was born Robert, were to appear in federal court Monday to argue that the hair removal treatments are a necessary part of Kosilek's physical transformation into a woman.

Kosilek's attorneys wrote in court documents that she was initially granted the electrolysis treatments "to keep the issue from being fully litigated at trial, showing further indifference to Kosilek's serious medical needs."

In September, a federal judge ordered Massachusetts prison officials to provide Kosilek, who was convicted in the 1990 strangulation death of her wife, Cheryl, sexual reassignment surgery, calling it the only way to correct the "prolonged violation" of the inmate's Constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled that Michelle Kosilek had experienced "intense mental anguish," and said there was a "serious medical need" for her to have the procedure.

"It has long been well-established that it is cruel for prison officials to permit an inmate to suffer unnecessarily from a serious medical need," the judge wrote in his 128-page decision.

He called it "unusual" to treat a prisoner with gender identity disorder differently "than the numerous inmates suffering from more familiar forms of mental illness."

Kosilek has tried to castrate herself and has attempted suicide twice, Wolf noted in his ruling.

Prison officials have said if Kosilek had the surgery she could be a target for sexual assaults, among other security risks, according to court documents.

Wolf said those concerns were "either pretextual or can be dealt with."

The court left the decision of where to house Kosilek after her surgery to the Department of Corrections.

The Department of Corrections offered no immediate comment but said it planned to explore its appellate options.

Kosilek first sued the Department of Corrections in 2000. Two years later, Wolf ruled she should receive treatment for gender identity disorder, which included hormones. Kosilek sued again in 2005, again asking for gender reassignment surgery.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Transgender Woman Sues New York over Genital Surgery Law

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Joann Prinzivalli's New York City birth certificate still reads: Paul Joseph Prinzivalli Jr., male, even though she transitioned to a woman more than a decade ago.

She attempted a transition from man to woman in the 1970s, fully prepared to have genital surgery, but her psychiatrist rejected her request.

Prinzivalli, now 57, eventually changed her name and has legal documents -- a driver's license and a Social Security card -- but her birth certificate doesn't match.

She wants to take the final step to secure her identity, but the New York City Health Department has demanded she have sex reassignment surgery -- on her genitals.  Thirty years ago, she was healthy enough, but today Prinzivalli is morbidly obese and has type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and a blood disorder that would make surgery dangerous.

She is now one of three transgender New Yorkers who are challenging the city in a lawsuit, saying that requiring surgery amounts to discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in the state Supreme Court, arguing that many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures.  They say a doctor's verification that they have fully transitioned is enough.

The federal government allows transgender Americans to change their gender marker on their passports and Social Security accounts with a doctor's certification that the person has had appropriate clinical treatment.

"When transgender people are forced to present an ID that does not match, they are laughed at and turned away at the DMV or applying for a job," said Noah Lewis, the TLDEF lawyer who is defending the New Yorkers.  "The cost is prohibitive for some people and insurance often denies those claims.  Some people feel that surgery is not necessary or appropriate for them."

The New York City Health Department requires written proof, "satisfactory to the department that the applicant has undergone convertive surgery," which it defines as genital surgery.

"We are very sympathetic to the petitioners' concerns and recognize that this is a complex issue," wrote Gabriel Taussig, chief of the New York City Health Department's administrative law division, in a statement.  "The health department must be satisfied that an applicant has completely and permanently transitioned to the acquired gender prior to the issuance of a new birth certificate."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Transgenders Sue over Surgery Requirement to Alter Gender on Birth Certificate

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Joann Prinzivalli's New York City birth certificate still reads: Paul Joseph Prinzivalli Jr., male, even though she transitioned to a woman more than a decade ago.

She attempted a transition from man to woman in the 1970s, fully prepared to have genital surgery, but her psychiatrist rejected her request.

Prinzivalli, now 57, eventually changed her name and has legal documents -- a driver's license and a Social Security card -- but her birth certificate doesn't match. She wants to take the final step to secure her identity, but the New York City Health Department has demanded she have sex reassignment surgery -- on her genitals. Thirty years ago, she was healthy enough, but Wednesday Prinzivalli is morbidly obese and has type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and a blood disorder that would make surgery dangerous.

She is one of three transgender New Yorkers who are challenging the city in a lawsuit, saying that requiring surgery amounts to discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in the state Supreme Court, arguing that many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures. They say a doctor's verification that they have fully transitioned is enough.

The federal government allows transgender Americans to change their gender marker on their passports and Social Security accounts with a doctor's certification that the person has had appropriate clinical treatment.

The New York City Health Department requires written proof, "satisfactory to the department that the applicant has undergone convertive surgery," which it defines as genital surgery.

A recent study by National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) shows 80 percent of women and 95 percent of men do not undergo sex reassignment surgery because of the cost, which can be tens of thousands of dollars.

The report, released in February, paints a bleak picture of life as a transgender person in the United States. The survey, "Injustice at Every Turn," says discrimination is pervasive.

The 50 states have a collection of different laws on how transgender Americans can change their birth certificates. Three states -- Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee -- ban any change to the birth certificate at all. Some require a court order, some, like New York, require proof of a surgical procedure.

In Washington state, which advocates say is a model, birth certificate changes require a doctor, under penalty of perjury, to validate the gender transition.

"Why would anyone who has not transitioned even think of doing this?" asked NCTE's Mara Keisling. "You have a right to do this. It doesn't make sense. What possible fraud is there?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio