ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia will pay $250,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who was denied hormone treatments while serving time in a state prison, the state attorney general’s office said on Friday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said it was pleased with the outcome for client Ashley Diamond, 37, but disputed the settlement amount cited by the state. The non-profit would not disclose a sum, however, citing a confidentiality agreement.
“Our lawsuit and Ashley Diamond’s bravery brought about important changes in Georgia, and have put prison officials across the country on notice about the constitutional rights of transgender persons,” Chinyere Ezie, a staff attorney for the center, said in the statement.
Diamond was in Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, when the lawsuit was filed.
According to the lawsuit, Diamond, a convicted burglar, had lived as a woman and had been taking hormones for 17 years before going to prison. While in prison, Diamond was placed in unsafe conditions with violent men, the lawsuit claimed.
The U.S. Justice Department sided with Diamond on the claim that denying hormone treatments while in prison amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that led to physical pain, muscle spasms and loss of breast mass.
After Diamond sued the state, Georgia changed its policy and made transgender inmates eligible for hormone therapy and medical and mental health evaluations and treatment plans.
“Because of the case, dozens of transgender inmates across the state are now receiving hormone therapy for the first time since entering custody,” the law center noted.
Diamond was released from prison last August.
”Though I am pleased with this resolution, I remain dedicated to fighting for the rights of transgender people both in and out of prison,” Diamond said in a statement.
Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Letitia Stein and David Gregorio