A biological male transgender prisoner has been transferred to a woman’s prison facility after complaints he felt like a “sex slave” while an inmate in the men’s prisons across Illinois.
Deon Hampton, 27, who now calls himself “Strawberry,” is serving a ten-year burglary sentence. He was moved to Logan Correctional Center, a women’s facility, reports the Chicago Tribune. Prior to the transfer, Hampton was an inmate in Dixon Correctional Center, a maximum-security men’s prison.
“We are thrilled,” said Vanessa del Valle, one of Hampton’s lawyers with the MacArthur Justice Center. “Strawberry has waited a long time for this transfer.”
“It’s an important first step that we hope will lead to the Department of Corrections recognizing that all trans women need to be free from abuse and discrimination while in custody,” she said. “And that includes properly housing them in women’s prisons.”
In May, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era rules about transgender individuals in federal prisons.
The Bureau of Prisons released a policy change to its manual, which now states the department will use “biological sex” as the basis for assigning facilities and bathrooms.
Hampton has sued the Illinois Department of Corrections multiple times over claims he suffered abuse in the state’s male facilities. He has sought to be recognized as a woman in order to be protected from the alleged abuse, sexual assaults, and discrimination.
Court documents reportedly claim that Hampton said a corrections officer pulled down his shorts and asked questions about his genitals. He also alleged a lieutenant forced him into phone sex and corrections employees coerced him to perform sex acts with a cellmate.
According to the Tribune, a Corrections Department spokeswoman said the department “carefully considered Hampton’s housing placement before making the transfer.”
Hampton’s attorneys say his lawsuits against officers for alleged abuse are continuing.
“It’s also our hope that this will not be a one-time review and that they will begin to do a similar all-encompassing review of all trans people in the Illinois Department of Corrections,” said Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, which also represents Hampton. “I think that the great failing with the department has been its unwillingness to talk to people individually to find out what they best need, and that is what the law requires.”
While Hampton’s transfer was not ordered by a judge, corrections officials were required to re-evaluate why his requests for transfer to a women’s facility had been denied. The court also required that Hampton be allowed to attend a support group for transgender individuals.