Ashley Diamond, a Black trans woman in a men’s prison, is suing the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) after she was sexually assaulted more than 14 times.
Diamond, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed her lawsuit against the GDC on Monday (23 November), alleging that the department has failed to protect her from sexual assault and has not provided adequate healthcare during her incarceration.
Diamond’s lawsuit comes just five years after she sued the GDC over abusive conditions faced by trans prisoners in Georgia prisons. She won that case, and the GDC was rebuked by a federal court and the US Department of Justice for its treatment of trans people.
She was released on parole in August 2015, but re-entered a Georgia prison in October 2019 following a technical parole violation.
While Diamond won her 2015 case, she was once again incarcerated in a men’s prison when she re-entered the system in 2019.
Since then, she has been sexually assaulted more than 14 times. In her lawsuit, she accused the GDC of failing to protect her, and said the department knowingly put her in danger when it placed her in a men’s prison.
Ashley Diamond attempted suicide after being sexually assaulted by inmates and staff.
Ashley Diamond said she has been sexually assaulted by both fellow inmates and by GDC staff. Her time in the prison has been so traumatic that she recently attempted suicide.
“Being a woman in a men’s prison is a nightmare,” Diamond said. “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.
This fight is not just my fight, it’s our fight.
“I’m bringing this lawsuit to bring about change on behalf of a community that deserves the inherent dignity to simply exist.”
Diamond added: “My hope is that the future is brighter for people like me. I hope this lawsuit forever changes the way transgender people in Georgia are treated. This fight is not just my fight, it’s our fight.”
In her lawsuit, Diamond said she was sexually assaulted four times over the course of three days. She also alleged that a prison officer locked her in an office two days in a row, where he sexually harassed her for hours at a time.
Prison officer outed inmate as trans.
After Diamond re-entered custody, she was placed in a maximum security men’s prison, despite the fact that her offences were non-violent in nature.
When she was transferred to a second men’s prison, an officer reportedly told the entire dormitory that Diamond was trans. In the address, the officer told inmates private information about her gender identity, and went on to describe her as “a freak”, “he” and “it”.
Diamond was assaulted shortly after the prison officer’s address to inmates.
Elsewhere in her lawsuit, Diamond said she has been given “inconsistent access to hormones” in prison, which has led to a “flare-up” of gender dysphoria, causing severe anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm.
“We sued Georgia prisons on Ashley’s behalf before and, unfortunately, we’re having to sue again to end the abhorrent treatment of transgender people, particularly transgender women of colour, in Georgia’s prisons,” said Beth Littrell, a senior attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Five years after changing its politics in response to our first lawsuit, GDC 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.”
PinkNews has contacted the Georgia Department of Corrections for comment.