The transgender woman whose lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections led the prison system to change the way it treats transgender inmates says her rights are once again being violated.
In a letter to the Georgia Department of Corrections, lawyers for Ashley Diamond say she’s been repeatedly sexually assaulted and denied adequate hormone treatment.
“A federal court recognized that the fact of being in a maximum-security facility puts her at high risk of assault and yet again that’s where they have chosen to keep her,” said Beth Littrell, a senior staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
She said the Georgia corrections department is violating its own policy to provide “constitutionally appropriate medical and mental health treatment.” That policy came about as a result of a lawsuit brought by Diamond in 2015.
“It indicates to us that the change that they instituted is on paper only and that transgender people who are incarcerated in Georgia prisons are still being brutalized and not given proper access to care,” Littrell said.
The Georgia Department of Corrections declined to comment for this story because, it says, Diamond’s allegations are “protected under federal law.”
Diamond, 42, led the charge for better treatment of transgender inmates. In 2015, while in prison for burglary, she filed a lawsuit against the state because it refused to provide her hormone therapy. She had received hormone treatments since age 17.
The lawsuit got the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, which intervened on her behalf.
Within a week, the state agreed to treat gender dysphoria as it would any other medical condition. It also ended its policy of denying new hormone therapy to transgender inmates.
Diamond was released shortly after, but she emerged from prison a different person, said her sister, Diana Diamond.
“Mentally and emotionally, she was like an egg that somebody had drained the yolk out of and just gave back the shell.”
Two years after her release, Ashley settled her lawsuit with the state, reportedly for $250,000. She got her own place and started putting on small shows, singing cover songs.
But Diana says her sister was constantly harassed. Under the terms of her parole, she couldn’t travel freely.
“Klan members would leave these notes and signs on her doors saying, You’re transgender, if you don’t know, use the bathrooms outdoors; and just making threatening gestures talking about killing her.”
In 2019, Ashley Diamond was arrested on a parole violation, and is now being held at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison.
Littrell, her attorney, is calling for Diamond’s release. At a minimum, she said, Diamond should be held in a women’s facility.