Behind bars

What it’s like to be a transgender woman in a men’s prison

Ashley Diamond's mother Diane, left, and one of her sisters, Diana Diamond-Wilson, upset by something Ashley is telling them during a rare phone call with her from prison. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Thirty-six-year-old Ashley Diamond was a lively, outspoken transgender woman before she was sentenced to time in an all-male prison in Georgia. Her dignity was stripped from day one, she says, when she was ordered to strip her Hannah Montana pajamas and her wig off in front of male prisoners. For the next three years, she faced abusive treatment in high-security lockups from both male inmates and prison officials who, among other atrocities, called her a “he-she thing,” forced her to watch them masturbate, raped her, and denied her the hormones that she had taken for 17 years. The constant abuse and her declining physical health resulted in several suicide attempts. On Friday, the Department of Justice stepped in to defend her Constitutional rights, stating that hormone therapy is necessary medical care. Although this is a huge step forward, we must also start considering safer housing and updated policies for transgender women in male prisons, who are 13 times more susceptible to sexual assault than the general population.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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