Tuesday, October 16, 2012

‘Transgender Exceptionalism’ in the Kosilek Case

The online legal publication JURIST published a very thoughtful piece by Jennifer Levi, the director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, on the recent ruling in the case of Michelle Kosilek, a transgender inmate who has long sought treatment within the Massachusetts Department of Corrections for her Gender Identity Disorder. A recent ruling in her favor generated an angry outcry from politicians and the public who don’t believe a convicted murderer should be receiving sex reassignment surgery at taxpayer expense.

Jennifer argues that no matter the controversy, there is no place in our system of laws for “transgender exceptionalism.” As she writes:
Properly understood, this case is not about the legitimacy of medical care for transgender people or the baseline of care that has to be provided to prisoners to ensure that we retain our position as a civilized society. Indeed, the Commonwealth itself has publicly disclaimed any challenge to the underlying legitimacy of the condition of GID or the need for its care and treatment in the prison setting. 
Rather the case asked and answered a question about whether the court would allow "transgender exceptionalism," by which I mean whether the court would allow a government official to ignore every established rule or policy simply because the person to whom the rules or policies would apply happened to be transgender.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read Jennifer’s piece. I guarantee it’s more informative than all of the thousands of news pieces that have been generated in the wake of the ruling combined.

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