Trans woman sues Georgia Dept. of Corrections for second time over ‘brutal and unrelenting abuse and mistreatment’ while in prison

Trans woman sues Georgia Dept. of Corrections for second time over ‘brutal and unrelenting abuse and mistreatment’ while in prison

A Black transgender woman is suing the Georgia Department of Corrections — for the second time — for failing to protect her from “brutal and unrelenting abuse and mistreatment” while in custody.

a close up of a woman: Ashley Diamond

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Ashley Diamond

In 2015, Ashely Diamond made national headlines after suing Georgia prison officials over abusive conditions faced by transgender people while incarcerated.

She was released, received a settlement, and also a guarantee that the agency would change its treatment of trans people, which included providing adequate hormone treatments.

Her case even led the U.S. Department of Justice to issue a Statement of Interest, saying that Georgia prisons’ treatment of transgender inmates was unconstitutional.

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However, despite the changes brought by the historic legal settlement, little has been done about it, Diamond, 42, alleges in a new lawsuit filed Monday by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Following a parole violation, Diamond was sent back to prison in October 2019 — and, once again, housed in a men’s facility.

Since then, Diamond says she has been sexually assaulted on 14 separate occasions, and endured abuse and harassment from both prison officials and other incarcerated people.

She also claims that prison officials have refused to provide her with “constitutionally adequate treatment for gender dysphoria” — a term defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a “serious medical condition … [that] causes severe psychological suffering and can lead to physical injury when it is not properly treated.”

As a result, Diamond, who was diagnosed with the condition at the  age of 15, said she’s experienced “severe physical and mental anguish, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, and self-harm.”

“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.”

Beth Littrell, a senior attorney for SPLC said that, “unfortunately, we’re having to sue again to end the abhorrent treatment of transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, in Georgia’s prisons.”

The organization  said in a statement that the department is “fully aware of its legal responsibility to properly evaluate, treat, and protect all incarcerated transgender women,” but it continues to fail to protect them.

“Five years after changing its policies in response to our first lawsuit, [the department] tragically continues to flout its legal obligations to protect transgender people in its custody. The assaults and threats that Ashley continues to face on a daily basis are based on the fact that she is a woman in a men’s prison  — it’s intolerable and inexcusable.”

Chinyere Ezie, an attorney for CRR who brought Diamond’s 2015 lawsuit in 2015 while working at SPLC, said that never expected she’d file a lawsuit against Georgia’s prisons on behalf of Diamond for a second time.

“However, little has changed since 2015 when it comes to the abuse and neglect of transgender people in GDC custody,” she said.

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Published at Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:02:42 +0000

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