Early this year, a transgender woman filed a federal lawsuit demanding better protections, alleging she has been raped seven times, punched, stomped, and knocked unconscious. Now, in the midst of her legal battle, Ashley Alton Diamond claims she was raped again and pressured to stay silent about it.
Diamond, who began her prison stint in 2012, filed a lawsuit last February, saying she was raped in more than one correctional facility and denied hormonal treatments that she had previously taken for 17 years. While behind bars, she tried to commit suicide and castrate herself, later explaining that “[she] would rather die” than be raped in the future. In April, she filed a motion to be transferred out of the Georgia State Prison (GSP), arguing she was brought there in retaliation for filing the lawsuit months before and detailing the ways she was sexually harassed there as well. A judge denied the request, but she was transferred to Jack T Rutledge State Prison in May.
The Justice Department intervened and Diamond is taking hormonal treatments again. But a status report filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on her behalf alleges Diamond was raped in June, at the very prison she was trying to get away from in April.
According to the report, Diamond’s cellmate raped her during a temporary stay at GSP, where she was taken on the way to a medical appointment. On the way back to Rutledge, the perpetrator threatened her to keep quiet. The report also claims the GSP warden disclosed what happened to her to other inmates, who have subsequently harassed and threatened her for speaking up.
“Ms. Diamond presently is afraid of leaving her dormitory, including for meals, without an escort,” it reads.
Today, 21 percent of trans women in the U.S. are incarcerated at some point in their lives, and Diamond’s case casts a light on their systemic mistreatment. Sexual abuse is a prevalent problem. For instance, another trans woman serving time in Georgia was forced to share a protective custody cell with the man she was supposed to be protected from — then subsequently raped by him. Many trans women are gang raped by fellow inmates, and others are sexually assaulted by prison staff.
But abuse takes other forms as well, including the denial of hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery, as well as the use of solitary confinement as a form of protective custody.