Well hello dear internetizens! As many of you will have noted, a few weeks back I wrote a blog about Michelle Kosilek, the transsexual woman and murederer who won her case to have her GRS provided for her while incarcerated for life, which I concluded with a plea for folks not to add fuel to the media fire. And although the story has died down just a bit, it seems that the embers keep bursting back into full flame. With the ensuing roaring pyres of comment threads that you might expect.
Well, at least I know I’ll never be a transgender issues writer who finds herself lacking for material… Just today I ran a across a fresh thread of vitriol spewing off the posting of a spanking new opinion piece about the case from the blog of a Boston area radio station.
And either because I’m apparently a masochist or I’m just an idiot who likes to stress myself out unnecessarily, I read through the comment thread and the piece it sprang from.
Basically, I saw nothing new. But since it seems the flames from this unpleasantly ongoing case will not die down, I was inspired to sit down and write out a couple of things worth considering, in addition to what I have written previously.
To begin with, do any of you realize how much the state is paying to fight this? I’ll give you a hint. The surgery costs in most ranges I’ve seen reported go from a low-end of $7,000 (the most likely, bare-minimum cost that the prison system would provide) to a high-end of $20,000 (unlikely that an inmate will get the ‘premium’ surgery).
Also, Kosileks lawyers had offered to waive their fees, which are substantial, if the state did not appeal. Since an appeal was called for by some important folks in high positions, it proceeded before the lawyers could even meet. Therefor negating the fee waiver.
How much are those fees? Right now, including out of pocket costs for Kosileks legal team (paying experts, etc.), they stand at around $800,000 altogether, of which $644,573 would have been waived.
But that’s not all!! Since this appeal is apparently going through, that means we, as taxpayers are not only on the hook for previous costs, we’re going to have to foot the bill for even more! I believe the proper internet lolspeak expression to insert here would be: FACEPALM.
So, who does this benefit? Well, Scott Brown for one. Soon to be former Senator Brown was one of the loudest voices calling for the condemnation of this decision and for the State to begin appeals. Brown, it might be noted, was in the middle of very tough fight (that we now know he lost) to hold on to his Senate seat. And this sort of issue was just the perfect thing to fire up his base of support. If you doubt me, go check the comment threads about how this is, “… an example of why the right hate liberals.” Also, see all the comments from folks saying they are liberal but don’t support this. Nothing like firing up that swing vote. In fact Brown desperately needed it. Interestingly, it should be noted (again) that the judge who made this decision is himself quite conservative and a Reagan appointee!
But, you say, what about Governor Patrick? He backed the decision to appeal. And he’s even been a vocal supporter of trans rights! Good point. Same idea though. As the defacto top Dem in Massachusetts, Patrick needed to look tough and appeal to those same, “I’m a liberal, but don’t support this” swing voters for the party to come out on top in this very important election year.
Want more? Okay. Remember the Drug Lab Scandal? You know, the one that was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in overturned convictions and force the state to retry all those cases? Yeah, that one. How long has it been since you heard about that? Want to take a wild guess about which juicy, issue and opinion-triggering story kicked it out of the headlines?
I could go on about ratings and page-views and other behind the dirty scenes media tricks and tropes, but you seem like intelligent folks, I’ll let you make that leap yourself. I could also mention how there are a lot of people who are very upset about the passage of the recent Trans Civil Rights Law in Massachusetts, who are gearing up to fight us on the remaining issue of Public Accommodations. And how stirring up all of this incidental anti-trans sentiment is very useful to them. How this issue lets them get under the skin of otherwise very well-meaning folks.
If you doubt this, look at any of the threads on this topic and read the comments from people who say they have no problem with transgender people, but then go on to throw around ugly slurs and misconceptions, deliberately use the wrong pronouns and generally question the whole validity of transsexualism, transgender people and the medical need for Gender Reassignment Surgery. Oh, and that’s not even getting into the folks who go on to compare transgender folks to pedophiles.
It’s all given a very thin veneer of, “This is not about transgender people, it’s about a killer.” But as a writer, media analyst and member of the media myself, I can tell you pretty comfortably that the broad generalizations that follow easily give the lie to this excuse.
And yes, trust me, the headline on the piece that inspired this blog is pretty leading. I write headlines, I know. The author is deliberately putting you in a mind to question the validity of gender reassignment surgery. As someone who writes a regular opinion column myself, I stand her no judgment for that. But readers need to be aware, it’s not a journalism piece, it’s an opinion piece. Frankly that’s what the headline is supposed to do.
So, what am I saying? I’m saying, come to your own conclusions. Read my previous piece about the case itself if you want to hear a reasonable argument from a bona-fide transgender person. But please think, ask questions. Ask yourself, who stands to benefit and what are they trying to get you to think? And most importantly, what are they trying to get you NOT to think about?