A second transgender woman is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to be transferred to a women’s prison.
Identified only by the pseudonym ‘Tay Tay’, lawyers at the MacArthur Justice Center and Uptown People’s Law Center filed the lawsuit for Tay Tay on Tuesday (14 May).
The lawsuit states the Corrections Department has not done enough to protect Tay Tay from years of abuse due to her gender identity and presence in a men’s prison facility.
Tay Tay is currently serving time for armed robbery.
Lawyer Sheila Bedi said Tay Tay suffered both assaults and harassment from fellow inmates. The suit alleges that a cellmate once raped Tay Tay.
Bedia accused the IDOC of ‘systemic failure’ that does not protect its trans inmates.
Another way society fails trans people
Prisons in the US struggle to accommodate trans inmates, with prisoners segregated based on their biological rather than true gender.
While legally permitted, it is highly uncommon for trans women to serve their sentences in female prisons.
Studies have found that trans prisoners continue to suffer from high rates of physical and sexual abuse.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, one in four inmates reported being physically assaulted by inmates and/or staff, and one in five said they had been sexually abused.
This discrimination occurs worldwide. In the UK, authorities recently moved trans women to men’s prisons. They also announced they’re scrapping their trans-inclusive policy and releasing new guidelines soon.
Tay Tay, however, has a promising precedent in her case. Earlier this year, the IDOC transferred Deon ‘Strawberry’ Hampton to a women’s prison after she successfully sued them. She now says she feels ‘much safer’.
The IDOC said it does not comment on pending litigation.