Lawyers for a trans woman being held in men’s prisons in Georgia are pushing for an immediate transfer to a women’s facility. In a new court filing, 42-year-old Ashley Diamond says she’s assaulted constantly, denied necessary medical treatment and retaliated against for complaining.
Diamond’s first legal battle with the Georgia Department of Corrections garnered national attention, including from the U.S. Department of Justice. That previous lawsuit led to apparent policy changes for trans inmates in Georgia prisons.
“But in reality, GDC refuses to place transgender women in women’s facilities regardless of their meeting the criteria set out,” said Diamond in a court declaration.
Beth Littrell is the senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is suing on Diamond’s behalf.
“Georgia Department of Corrections appears to have absolutely no idea how to properly care for transgender people who are in their custody. That needs to change,” said Littrell.
Diamond is currently housed in Coastal State Prison near Savannah. She says she’s been sexually assaulted more than two dozen times by both inmates and staff at every prison facility she’s entered since her recent arrest in 2019. When she’s filed complaints, including through the Prison Rape Elimination Act, Diamond said she’s been retaliated against by staff. She said they’ve issued illogical disciplinary reports, falsified her prison records and pushed back her release date.
In her statement, Diamond said she was originally told she’d be released last year, but has since been rescheduled for release in April 2022.
“She is trying desperately to get the Georgia Department of Corrections to meet their constitutional obligations to protect her, to provide her medical care. And instead of doing either, they are engaged in a campaign of retaliation against her to make her life even more miserable,” said Littrell.
In her first lawsuit, the court found that Diamond, who’s received hormone treatments since age 17, had a constitutional right to be protected from assaults and provided treatment for gender dysphoria.
“Based on that lawsuit, the Georgia Department of Corrections changed that policy and are now providing hormones to trans women. That’s good news,” said Littrell.
“The bad news is, they’re doing it in a slipshod and haphazard way.”
Since Diamond’s second lawsuit was filed last year, the SPLC has heard from roughly a dozen trans women in men’s prisons in Georgia complaining of similar treatment, according to Littrell.
Diana Diamond told WABE she hears from her sister, Ashley, almost daily. She described Ashley Diamond as “fragile” and said her life in men’s prisons is torture.
“I ask for people to listen with their whole heart and stand up with me. Stand with our family,” she said.
“Let’s get the appropriate changes that should already be in place. Let’s make sure that they stand not just for Ashley but for all trans inmates. For all inmates.”
Diamond said her sister was sent back to prison on a parole violation when Ashley tried seeking treatment in Florida. Her original charge was for a nonviolent burglary offense.
Like her lawyers, Diana Diamond worries constantly about her sister’s many suicide and self-harm attempts. But she said despite alleged retaliation, Ashley Diamond doesn’t regret filing suit and will always stand for what she believes in.
The Georgia Department of Corrections has not responded to a request for comment.