Transgender inmate sues IDOC director, prison staff over alleged sexual assault, asks court for transfer to female facility

By John Breslin | May 23, 2019


A transgender inmate has asked a federal court to order a transfer to a female prison after allegedly being the victim of repeated sexual harassment. 

The plaintiff, named Tay Tay, is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), Director John Baldwin and Warden Jeff Dennison, of the Shawnee Correctional Center, along with a number of other correctional officers, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The plaintiff is currently being held in Danville Correctional Center but wants to be moved to Logan, a prison for females, and placed in the general population. Tay Tay is currently undergoing hormone therapy while in custody. 

According to the complaint, Tay Tay has been in prison since 2002 and alleges she has been repeatedly sexually assaulted by other prisoners and subjected to "constant sexual harassment" by both prisoners and staff.

"As a result of the abuse she has endured, Plaintiff has experienced several mental health crises, including several suicide attempts and self-mutilation episodes," the complaint states.

The plaintiff repeatedly asked staff to keep her safe, including requesting a transfer to a women's prison, which was refused as the Illinois Department of Corrections has a policy to house inmates according to their sex assigned at birth.

"Plaintiff is not safe in men’s prisons," the complaint alleges. "Without court action, IDOC will continue to ignore Plaintiff’s pleas for help and she will continue to be in grave danger."

The plaintiff also argues that "she knew she was a female from a very young age."

"Around 27 years ago, she began identifying as female in places where she felt comfortable," the complaint states. "Despite the harassment she has received in IDOC as detailed below, Plaintiff decided to openly identify as female around ten years ago while in IDOC custody."

Tay Tay is worried that as she becomes increasingly feminized with diminished physical strength, this will further mark her as a target.

The "plaintiff is primarily concerned about her safety and wants to be able to transition in an environment where she feels safe and protected."

Tay Tay accuses the defendants of violating the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, claiming discrimination on gender and failure to protect.

The plaintiff also claims the defendants are violating her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act after she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the distress felt by an individual whose birth sex does not match their gender identity.

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