When Ashley Diamond was incarcerated in 2012, GDC prison officials blatantly disregarded her safety, health, and mental state. Ashley was housed in a series of maximum-security prisons for men, where she endured repeated sexual assaults by other prisoners while prison officials ignored her pleas regarding safety. GDC officials openly told Ashley that they couldn't protect transgender prisoners and instructed her to "guard your booty" and "be prepared to fight" when she complained of assaults. Prison officials also denied critical hormone therapy that Ashley had been receiving for 17 years, and placed her in solitary confinement for "pretending to be a woman." Denying this medically necessary care resulted in grave physical and mental harm to Ashley: she endured a painful physical transformation after her hormone therapy was terminated and even attempted suicide and self-castration.
Ashley brought a case demanding that GDC provide both safe placement for transgender prisoners and medically necessary care, including hormone therapy. In February 2016, with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, she reached a landmark settlement that led to significant reforms for transgender individuals state-wide and nationally. GDC rescinded its policy so that transgender individuals could receive hormone therapy for the first time since being incarcerated; the prison officials adopted a sexual assault prevention policy more closely aligned with federal standards; and they agreed to train prison staffers throughout the state on the health and safety needs of transgender inmates. However, despite the policy changes on paper, in practice, transgender individuals still experience the same issues while incarcerated.
This excerpt was taken from ccrjustice.org, click here to read Ashley's full story.
Ashley's Future Plans
Ashley is a passionate advocate for trans rights and prisoners' rights. Once she is released from prison she envisions herself putting her advocacy dreams into action through public speaking and sharing her story. She needs our support to make those dreams a reality as soon as possible.
[Prison] relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism."
Photo credit: Robin Henson