President Joe Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) is weighing in on a lawsuit a male inmate who considers himself a transgender woman filed, blaming Georgia prison officials for allowing other men in the prison to sexually assault him.
The inmate, who goes by Ashley Diamond and filed the lawsuit in November, says the prison also did not provide treatment for gender dysphoria.
The DOJ’s Statement of Interest affirms what Ms. Diamond has alleged in her lawsuit: that prison officials violate the U.S. Constitution and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment when they refuse transgender people placements at facilities that correspond to their gender identity where needed for safety, and when they deny transgender people medically-necessary gender dysphoria care without conducting individualized assessments of their needs.
In essence, the DOJ confirms that when it comes to Ms. Diamond — who alleges repeated sexual assaults, including by prison officials, and ongoing denial of adequate medical care — the U.S. Constitution is on her side. We are encouraged that the Biden administration agrees, and optimistic that the court will protect the rights of Ms. Diamond and other incarcerated trans people.
The Washington Post reported on the development, including that Diamond has “identified” as a female since he was a child and hormone treatments resulted in large breasts and a feminine appearance:
Filing a brief in Diamond’s case Thursday, the Justice Department said it’s not taking a position on the facts of the case but noted that the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “requires prison officials to conduct individualized assessments that lead to reasonably safe conditions of confinement and adequate medical care for all prisoners.” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joan Heath said the agency “does not provide comment related to pending litigation or similar legal matters.”
Diamond’s lawyers said in court filings earlier this month that repeated sexual assaults and lack of sufficient medical treatment have caused her mental and physical trauma and led her to harm herself. They also said prison officials have retaliated against Diamond since she filed complaints and the lawsuit with a slew of unwarranted disciplinary reports that resulted in her release date being delayed.
Diamond’s lawyers have asked a judge to order prison officials to move her to a women’s prison and to provide her with necessary medical treatment for her gender dysphoria. A hearing on those requests is set for next month.
The Post reports that this is the second suit Diamond has filed against Georgia prisons. He also filed when he was incarcerated in 2015 for burglary and another conviction but settled with the state in 2016 after being released on parole.
Diamond was incarcerated again in 2019 for a parole violation.
The case is Diamond v. Ward, No. 5:20-cv-00453-MTT in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Macon Division
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