Thursday 20 September 2012

A Most Unpopular Decision

From the Huffington Post : Michelle Kosilek, Inmate Born As Robert Kosilek, Eligible For Legal Fees Reimbursement In Addition To Sex Change Comments that illustrate the popular mood:
So, isn't MURDER cruel and unusual punishment on the victim? I say cut it off and shove it down his throat! 
just ask someone to shank his ass...problem solved ...
Hopefully someone will before the surgery.
It's a credible threat.
Full text of the judgement:

 It's as sordid a tale of deliberate inhuman cruelty - "wanton cruelty" as the judge put it, as you'll ever find.

 Commentary at the American Bar Association Blog.
Ruling Tuesday in a seven-year-old civil rights suit in which a transgender prison inmate has been seeking to have the state of Massachusetts pay for sex-change surgery, a federal judge in Boston agreed with Michelle Kosilek and prison doctors that the operation needs to be performed. “This fact that sex reassignment surgery is for some people medically necessary has recently become more widely recognized,” wrote Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf in a 129-page landmark opinion (PDF). He based his ruling on Kosilek's argument that her Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the prison system's refusal to provide her with adequate treatment for her severe gender identity disorder. It may be the first time a federal judge anywhere in the country has ordered such surgery for a prison inmate, according to the Associated Press and the Boston Globe. Convicted of first-degree murder as Robert Kosilek for the 1990 slaying of her wife, Kosilek, who has had hormone treatments, is serving a sentence of life without parole in a men's prison. The state is reportedly reviewing Wolf's opinion and considering its appellate options.
My take : There’s an obvious problem here, that convicted murderers can’t be treated like decent, law-abiding transsexuals outside prison, because that treatment amounts to torture, so is forbidden by the 8th amendment. The only solutions are to either repeal the 8th amendment, or put in place legislation so law-abiding transsexuals aren’t treated worse than convicted murderers, Your choice. Given the general attitude of society towards convicted criminals, I think repeal of the 8th amendment would be far more popular, popular enough to pass. The other alternative is a non-starter unless a lot more education on the issue is provided.
"The right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, like the other guarantees of the Bill of Rights, may not be submitted to vote; it depends on the outcome of no elections. The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts." -- Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 269 (1972)
"To incarcerate, society takes from prisoners the means to provide for their own needs. Prisoners are dependent on the State for food, clothing, and necessary medical care. A prison’s failure to provide sustenance for inmates “may actually produce physical ‘torture or a lingering death.’” Just as a prisoner may starve if not fed, he or she may suffer or die if not provided adequate medical care. A prison that deprives prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society. " - SCOTUS
“Denying adequate medical care because of a fear of controversy or criticism from politicians, the press, and the public serves no legitimate penological purpose,” Wolf wrote. “It is precisely the type of conduct the Eight Amendment prohibits.”

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Another part of the puzzle

Increased Cortical Thickness in Male-to-Female Transsexualism Luders et al, Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 2011

Background: The degree to which one identifies as male or female has a profound impact on one’s life.
Yet, there is a limited understanding of what contributes to this important characteristic termed gender identity.
In order to reveal factors influencing gender identity, studies have focused on people who report strong feelings of being the opposite sex, such as male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals.
Method: To investigate potential neuroanatomical variations associated with transsexualism, we compared the regional thickness of the cerebral cortex between 24 MTF transsexuals who had not yet been treated with cross-sex hormones and 24 age-matched control males.
Results: Results revealed thicker cortices in MTF transsexuals, both within
regions of the left hemisphere (i.e., frontal and orbito-frontal cortex, central sulcus, perisylvian regions, paracentral gyrus) and right hemisphere (i.e., pre-/post-central gyrus, parietal cortex, temporal cortex, precuneus, fusiform, lingual, and orbito-frontal gyrus).
Conclusion: These findings provide further evidence that brain anatomy is associated with gender identity, where measures in MTF transsexuals appear to be shifted away from gender-congruent men.