After a historic legal settlement over abusive conditions facing incarcerated transgender people in Georgia prisons, Ashley Diamond, a Black transgender woman, re-entered the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) in 2019 only to encounter similar unconstitutional conditions, sparking a lawsuit on her behalf by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The lawsuit describes how GDC failed to protect Diamond from sexual assault and provide her with adequate health care while incarcerated in a men’s prison after she re-entered GDC custody on a technical parole violation. It argues that GDC’s failure to protect her from sexual assault and abuse by men violated the Eighth Amendment and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
In February 2015, she filed a lawsuit challenging the abusive conditions facing incarcerated transgender people in Georgia prisons, which led to the historic settlement agreement and rebuke of GDC from the federal court and the U.S. Department of Justice. She was released on parole in August 2015. Unfortunately, she violated the terms of her parole by traveling out of state to get medical treatment, re-entering GDC custody in October 2019.
The complaint filed in 2020 describes how she has been subjected to relentless sexual abuse, assaults and harassment and denied necessary treatment for her gender dysphoria. Her experience has been so traumatic that she attempted suicide. The lawsuit details 14 sexual assaults in a year, including four sexual assaults over three days. It also describes an incident in which an officer locked her in an office two days in a row and sexually abused her for hours.
Diamond was initially placed in a maximum-security men’s prison despite the nonviolent nature of her offenses. She was assaulted within days of her arrival. She was later moved to another men’s prison, where an officer called a dormitory-wide meeting and announced to other incarcerated people Diamond’s transgender status, disclosing confidential medical information and describing her as “a freak,” “he” and “it.” Shortly after the meeting, she was — predictably — assaulted. The sexual harassment and assaults continue to this day.
She developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of past sexual assaults endured while in GDC custody. Her recent experiences, along with the department’s failure to provide her with adequate treatment for her gender dysphoria, have exacerbated her post-traumatic stress disorder and devastated her mental health.
The lawsuit also alleges that GDC continues to provide inadequate medical care to incarcerated transgender people. While Diamond’s first lawsuit reversed GDC’s policy of refusing to provide hormones to transgender people, now GDC provides, at most, only inconsistent access to hormones – far from the minimum standard of care required.
By February 2022, Diamond was still housed in a men’s prison by GDC — an action the SPLC and its co-counsel said shows “callous disregard” for her safety, according to a court filing seeking her transfer to a women’s prison. Georgia prison officials have refused to take any steps to protect her, showing “deliberate indifference” to her suffering.