Boston Spirit
December 20, 2012

Every time Michelle Kosilek makes headlines, Gunner Scott’s phone rings off the hook. Kosilek is in prison for committing a murder. By law, all prisoners are entitled to medically necessary procedures. For Kosilek, that means gender reassignment treatments. A U.S. District court has unequivocally stated that withholding treatment is a “violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care.” For the judicial system, the case is a no brainer. For just about everyone else the case can be confusing at a minimum, and downright infuriating at its worst. And some of those most disturbed by the case are often those who, like Kosilek, identify as transgender. Gunner Scott, as executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political coalition, fields a number of these calls from frustrated and angry members of the transgender community who pepper him with questions like: Why is Kosilek up for getting treatment paid for by the state that they themselves can’t get from their own health insurance? Do I need to go to jail to get the health care that I need? How did a murderer become the face of transgender health care rights? Scott frankly admits that Kosilek comes across as an “unsympathetic” person and that her case is not an easy one upon which to create public opinion in support of transgender justice issues. Even a politician as liberal as Elizabeth Warren came out against Kosilek’s surgery. “I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars,” she said in an interview during her senatorial campaign.