Another day, another instance of the legal system plainly disregarding the rights of transgender people. A trans woman has sued the Georgia Department of Corrections for the second time, alleging that correctional officers have failed to protect her from abuse.
According to CBS News, the suit, filed by the Center of Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of 42-year-old Ashley Diamond, alleges that Diamond has been assaulted over 14 times by both inmates and prison staff. Diamond, a trans woman, is currently incarcerated at the Coastal State Prison, a men’s prison in Savannah, Ga.
“Being a woman in a men’s prison is a nightmare,” Diamond said in a statement. “I’ve been stripped of my identity. I never feel safe. Never. I experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, and the fear of sexual assault is always a looming thought. I’m bringing this lawsuit to bring about change on behalf of a community that deserves the inherent dignity to simply exist.”
According to the New York Times, Diamond is currently being held in a cell that doesn’t lock, and the repeated harassment has led her to attempt suicide and self-castration. The suit adds that in one instance of harassment, a corrections officer held her in a windowless room, forced her into a makeshift bed, belittled her, and sexually assaulted her for hours.
Diamond filed a similar lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections in 2015, targeting their “freeze-frame” policy. The policy allowed trans people to use the medication and treatments they had prior to being incarcerated, but prevented them from obtaining new treatments.
I don’t understand why this was a thing. If someone is diagnosed with cancer while incarcerated, I doubt anyone is going to be like “ah, well, that sucks but the rules say…” Granted, the American prison system is one devoid of basic empathy, so shit, they just might.
Still, that doesn’t make the policy any less absurd, and the Department of Justice seemed to agree. They ruled in 2015 that the policy was unconstitutional, and under the Eighth Amendment, the prison has an obligation to provide proper care to transgender prisoners.
Diamond settled with the Department of Corrections in 2016 and the policy was eventually ended. Diamond was released on parole in 2015, but was re-incarcerated last year as a result of an unclear parole violation.
Chinyere Ezie, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, described the lawsuit as “the worst kind of déjà vu,” in a statement Monday.
“Ashley won so many rights for trans prisoners with her lawsuit in 2015, it’s shocking and horrific to see that five years later incarcerated trans people are still being sexually assaulted, denied necessary medical care, and left to perish. We hope with this lawsuit, the cruel and unusual treatment stops today,” Ezie added.