Trans woman felt like a ‘sex slave’ in Illinois prisons
A transgender woman in Illinois has described in a lawsuit how she was made to feel like a “sex slave” while she was incarcerated in a number of men’s prisons in the state.
Deon “Strawberry” Hampton sued the Illinois Department of Corrections multiple times over the last year in an attempt to get a transfer to a women’s prison, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In her latest lawsuit, she claims that she has been repeatedly abused and experienced sexual assault from both guards and inmates while serving her 10-year sentence for burglary.
A federal judge in southern Illinois has now ordered that prison staff in the state be trained in transgender issues, and also ordered that prison officials re-evaluate Hampton’s request for a transfer.
Hampton’s attorney, Vanessa del Valle, said it was “an important step” for Hampton and other transgender women who are imprisoned in the US.
The judge, Nancy Rosenstengel, also said that Hampton should be allowed to access a trans support group at the Dixon Correctional Centre, where she is currently imprisoned.
Furthermore, the court gave the Department of Corrections 14 days to come up with a plan to train staff in transgender issues.
A spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune that the department has a “strict zero-tolerance policy toward all forms of sexual abuse and harassment.”
“The Department carefully considers housing assignments and the unique needs of offenders who identify as transgender,” she added.
Trans women can be moved to female prisons in the US, however these transfers are rarely granted. In 2016, there were no trans inmates in two female prisons in Illinois.
Hampton has served parts of her sentence in four different men’s prisons in Illinois, and she alleged in her lawsuit that she has experienced abuse in all of them.
In the distressing document, she claimed that an officer once pulled down her shorts and asked what genitalia she had.
She also claims that she was forced to have phone sex with a lieutenant and that a group of officers had made her and another inmate engage in sexual acts for their own entertainment.
In the latest prison she has served time in, she alleges that she was assaulted by other inmates.
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Hampton has identified as female since she was just five years old, and began hormone therapy in 2016 as a part of her transition.
Attacks on transgender people
The judgement comes just weeks after a document was leaked to The New York Times which suggested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the US wants to define a person’s sex as either male or female as identified by “immutable biological traits” at birth, barring recognition of transgender people.
Although the HHS branded the New York Times report “misleading,” Trump struck a different tone when he was asked about the issue by reporters while boarding Marine One at the White House on October 22.
Asked if he was “giving up” on election promises to protect transgender Americans, Trump responded: “We’re looking at it. We have a lot of different concepts right now.
“They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do and we’re looking at it very seriously.”