‘I Never Feel Safe’: Georgia Trans Woman Fights To Transfer Out Of Men's Prison

Ashley Diamond says she has endured repeated sexual assaults by prisoners and abuse by staff.

July 02, 2021
Ashley Diamond stands in front of trees in a plaid shirt.

Ashley Diamond, a trans woman, is suing Georgia to be transferred from a men's prison. [via Southern Poverty Law Center]

Ashley Diamond, a trans woman, is suing Georgia to be transferred from a men's prison. [via Southern Poverty Law Center]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A transgender woman currently incarcerated in a men’s prison in Georgia is fighting for the second time to be transferred to a women’s facility for her health and safety.

Ashley Diamond, 43, was arrested in 2012 for pawning a stolen saw. She was convicted of burglary and other charges and received a sentence of up to 12 years behind bars.

Diamond, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the ‘90s and began hormone therapy as a teenager, was placed in a men’s prison.

In videos she released around the time, Diamond called her experiences in maximum-security prisons for men “torture” and “gross human rights violations.” She claimed she was denied the hormone therapy she had been receiving for almost two decades and alleged she endured repeated sexual assaults by prisoners and abuse by staff.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender people are ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted by other inmates and five times more likely to be sexually assaulted by prison staff.

In a 2015 lawsuit Diamond filed against the Georgia Department of Corrections, she demanded safe conditions and access to medically necessary care.

The following year, Diamond, since released from prison, reached a settlement with the Georgia Department of Corrections, who denied all wrongdoing. The agreement was to result in major reforms for how transgender inmates are housed and cared for while incarcerated.

In April 2019, Diamond attempted suicide, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, and she went to Florida the following month to receive healthcare for two weeks at a trans-inclusive treatment facility. She was arrested shortly after for leaving Georgia, a violation of her parole terms.

Diamond reentered custody and was again placed in a men’s prison. She has claimed in a second lawsuit filed against the Georgia Department of Corrections in November 2020 that she faces similar issues her former settlement was meant to address, including alleged sexual assaults, harassment and denial of proper healthcare.

She is requesting to be moved to a women’s facility until she is up for parole in April 2022.

“Being a woman in a men’s prison is a nightmare,” Diamond said in a statement provided to CCRJ. “I’ve been stripped of my identity. I never feel safe. Never. I experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, and the fear of sexual assault is always a looming thought. I’m bringing this lawsuit to bring about change on behalf of a community that deserves the inherent dignity to simply exist.”

In court filings, the Georgia Department of Corrections requested an investigation into the allegations, claiming Diamond is housed in an area chosen for her safety and she is receiving her doctor-recommended treatment, CNN reported.

While a decision on the suit is pending, Diana Diamond told the news network her sister is “suffering cruel and unusual punishment” behind bars. “It’s like I’ve seen her soul leave her body,” she said. “Ashley’s gone. Ashley Diamond that went to prison in 2012 is no longer here. This person that’s here will never ever be able to get over what’s been done to her.”

In April, the Department of Justice released a statement of interest in support of granting Diamond’s request to be transferred to a women’s facility for her safety.

“Intervention is needed,” Diana said, “and if it’s not fast, quick and ASAP, I don’t think we’ll have an Ashley much longer.”

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