Feds Say Georgia’s Treatment of Transgender Prisoners Is Unconstitutional

Ashley Diamond before entering prisonPhoto courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center


For three years, the Georgia Department of Corrections allegedly has denied transgender inmate Ashley Diamond medical treatment for gender dysphoria, causing her such distress that she has attempted on multiple occasions to castrate herself, cut off her penis, and kill herself. In February, Diamond filed a lawsuit against GDC officials, and on Friday the Department of Justice dealt the GDC a major blow, claiming that the state’s failure to adequately treat inmates with gender dysphoria “constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.”

The DOJ weighed in on Diamond’s case via a statement of interest, which offers recommendations for how the district court in Georgia should rule in the case. It focused on Georgia’s so-called freeze-frame policy, which prevents inmates from receiving hormone therapy for gender dysphoria if they were not identified as transgender and referred for treatment immediately during the prison intake process. “Freeze-frame policies and other policies that apply blanket prohibitions to such treatment are facially unconstitutional because they fail to provide individualized assessment and treatment of a serious medical need,” DOJ officials wrote, adding that similar policies have been previously struck down in Wisconsin and New York.

Chinyere Ezie, Diamond’s lead attorney, says the defense has until next Friday to submit briefs in response to the complaint, which may include a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The first hearing for the case is scheduled for April 13. You can read the DOJ’s entire statement below, and check out our earlier coverage of Diamond’s case.

 

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate