Judge: State must hire expert to show that Michelle Kosilek does not need electrolysis

A federal judge today ordered the Massachusetts Department of Correction to hire an independent expert to determine whether electrolysis 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 attorneys for the convicted killer to file legal papers spelling out whether the judge has the power to put the surgery on hold.

In September, Wolf ruled that Kosilek, who identified himself 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.

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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 attorneys have argued that she needs electrolysis to remove facial hair 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.