Just moments after claiming to “understand the torture” experienced by transgender people, Fox News' Megyn Kelly mocked a transgender inmate's attempt to acquire medically necessary gender reassignment treatment while in prison.
During the April 4 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Fox News legal analyst Mercedes Colwin and former prosecutor Tom Kenniff to discuss a Massachusetts transgender inmate who has successfully sued the state in order to acquire gender reassignment surgery while in prison.
Throughout the segment, Kelly and Kenniff repeatedly and inaccurately referred to the inmate, Michelle Kosilek, as a male, suggesting that taxpayers shouldn't be required to cover the costs of her “elective” surgery:
KELLY: I understand the torture of gender identity disorder, the torture that that is for somebody. But a convicted murderer who strangled his wife so badly she was almost decapitated, should they really be getting that operation the taxpayer's dime?
When Colwin suggested that Kosilek should be housed with other female inmates, Kelly mocked the idea of giving Kosilek a “get out of male prison free card”:
COLWIN: He's been in prison with men. Now he's anatomically female, he should be able to put in the women's detention centers, and you don't need the -
KELLY: Really? Now you get a get out of male prison free card, Tom, if you can get a sex change operation funded by the taxpayers?
Placing Kosilek in a women's facility should be a no-brainer. Transgender inmates face high rates of sexual assault when they aren't placed in the appropriate facilities. Forcing a female transgender inmate to be housed with male prisoners, regardless of where that inmate is in her transition process, makes her a target for violence and abuse.
Kelly also failed to acknowledge the medical necessity of gender reassignment surgery. Kosilek has been diagnosed by prison doctors with gender identity disorder (GID). In cases where a GID diagnosis has been made, gender reassignment treatment is considered by experts to be "medically necessary" and “not optional in any meaningful sense.”
As Colwin pointed out, failing to provide Kosilek with gender reassignment surgery could result in self-harm, including suicide and auto-castration. According to The Boston Globe:
Kosilek has already tried to castrate himself and twice tried to commit suicide, once while taking the antidepressant Prozac. The Department of Correction's own doctors have said that surgery is the only appropriate care for Kosilek.
Recent litigation has similarly established that this denial of treatmentis a form of "cruel and unusual punishment."
Fox News has made a habit of using Kosilek's case as an excuse to peddle transphobic misinformation. Last November, during the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, the Fox & Friends crew mocked Kosilek's request for electrolysis treatment. And in January, Kelly and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly joked that Kosilek was too unattractive to worry about being raped in prison.
In February, GLAAD called on Fox to end its transphobic news coverage.