The Harrowing Story of Being Transgender in Prison

Being transgender in prision is not easy.

Can you imagine how difficult it must be to be transgender in prison? The prison system is a terrible place to be; it’s full of injustice already. And according to Ashley Diamond, it’s even worse for people who are transgender.

Recently, The New York Times featured Diamond’s  frustrating, strong, and sad story about how she’s been/being treated in a Georgia prison. None of the horrible facts of her story are surprising, but that doesn’t make this story any harder to read or report.

Diamond has lived as a woman since she was an adolescent in Rome, Georgia. Before entering the prison system, she had been taking hormones for 17 years.

Diamond was sent to prison in March 2012 for various charges, such as burglary (her main charge), petty criminality, and ultimately, convictions of escape and obstruction of justice. (The last few charges are murky. Diamond and the police have conflicting stories concerning how she incurred those charges.) Ultimately, Diamond could be in prison until November 2023.

Since her first day in prison, Diamond has been defeminized. When she arrived in the Georgia prison, she was “ordered to strip alongside male inmates.” Since the 36-year-old woman entered prison, she has had to deal with the following abuse:

She has been denied her hormone treatment: Luckily, Diamond and other trans inmates recently got a bit of good news about hormone treatment. According to the Time, “Ms. Diamond and, through her, all transgender inmates won the unexpected support of the Justice Department, which intervened on her behalf in the federal lawsuit she filed against Georgia corrections officials in February.”

She has been raped “at least seven times” by inmates.

She has been called a “he-she thing” by prison officials.

She has been put in solitary confinement for “pretending to be a woman.”

All this news has come to light after Diamond filed a lawsuit. Her lawsuit requests the following:

“…Ms. Diamond asks the court to direct prison officials to provide her hormone therapy, to allow her to express her female identity through “grooming, pronoun use and dress,” and to provide her safer housing. She also seeks broader changes in policy and practice.”

I’m saddened that Diamond had to file a lawsuit to just get basic human rights. She should be able to “be” without consequence.

Read more about Diamond’s story here.

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Image: Michael Coghlan

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy! Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.