• The Evolving Standards of Decency: Transgender Prisoners’ Right to Adequate Medical Care in the Prison System

    Carly Cruickshank
    Michigan State Law Review
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    In recent years, the LGBTQ community has seen major changes in the recognition of its legal rights.1 These changes come after a long history of discrimination against the community and criminalization of gender and sexual minorities in the United States.2 Today, the LGBTQ community, and transgender individuals in particular, still face discrimination in many facets of their lives.3 Transgender individuals, and especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately the victims of hate crimes and violence.4 In prisons, transgender individuals are far more likely than cisgender individuals to be sexually assaulted and mistreated by fellow inmates and staff.5 Furthermore, transgender individuals face significant healthcare disparities while imprisoned.6 The story of Ashley Diamond illustrates these concerns.7 In 2012, Diamond, a transgender woman of color, was placed in a men’s prison.8 While incarcerated, staff instructed Diamond that the facility did not have the means to protect transgender inmates and told her to “guard [her] booty” in order to defend herself from assault by other inmates.9 Without adequate protection, Diamond was sexually assaulted more than fourteen times in one year and subject to consistent harassment because of her gender identity.10 Beyond the harassment by both prison officials and other prisoners, Diamond was denied proper medical treatment.11 Before becoming incarcerated, Diamond had been on hormone therapy, however, when she entered prison her treatment stopped.12 The consequences of refusing to continue her treatment were severe.13 Diamond attempted self-castration and suicide more than once while incarcerated.14 With the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Diamond sued the Department of Corrections for denial of medical treatment and victimization under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.15
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    10 months ago
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