Attorneys for the former inmate, Makyyla Holland, say that the settlement could set a precedent for jails across the country.
A black transgender woman who claims that she suffered extensive abuse at Broome County Jail in New York has reached a settlement with corrections officials.
Attorneys for the Makyyla Holland have already celebrated the settlement for setting “one of the strongest policies” in the country to protect the rights of transgender prisoners.
Holland filed her lawsuit earlier this year after spending about six weeks in Broome County Jail. While behind bars, the Binghampton woman claims that she was repeatedly discrimination against for being transgender.
“I was harassed, mocked, misgendered and worse: jail staff strip-searched me, beat me up, placed me in the male section of the jail, and withheld my hormones for a period of time, forcing me to go into agonizing withdrawal,” Holland told The New York Daily News in an interview.
Holland, adds the Daily News¸ had been on hormone therapy for about five years before her arrest and detention.
After being taken into custody, she allegedly asked Broome County Jail staff to protect her from threats received from other inmates, but was denied any reasonable accommodations.
On Thursday, though, Holland’s attorneys said that they had reached a settlement with the county government.
As part of the agreement, officials agreed to implement a “wide-sweeping” policy to affirm the rights of transgender, non-binary, and intersex inmates.
Image via Pexels/Pixabay. (CCA-BY-0.0)
This includes conducting searches and housing inmates in units consistent with their gender identity, with some “limited exceptions.”
Broome County also said that corrections officers will be asked to respect detainees’ gender identity. They will, for instance, be required to use inmates’ preferred pronouns and to offer them continued access to medical care and so-called gender-affirming items.
In addition to these procedural changes, Broome County Jail also agreed to pay Holland an additional $160,000 in compensation.
“No one should ever have to go through what I went through at the Broome County Jail, and I am so grateful that with this new policy hopefully no one else ever will,” Holland said in a statement. “This is a great outcome.”
“This policy and policies like it can impact a lot of my community, and I will continue to fight to ensure that no other trans person in New York or anywhere else has to endure what I did,” Holland said.
Holland, writes the Daily News, was represented by attorneys from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and private law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Shayna Medley, a senior litigation attorney with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, said that the settlement could set a “great example” of how transgender inmates should be treated while in custody.
“It’s just another really great steps in terms of setting an example of how trans people in custody should be treated, not only in Broome County but across the state of New York as well as the country,” Medley said. “The policy that Broome County has adopted as part of the settlement is a really great example that we hope other localities can use.”
Holland, for her part, said that she is still working to move past the abuse.
“I’m happy it’s over,” she said. “I do hold some trauma from being incarcerated. But I do know that it is a healing process.”
“No matter what is the reason that a person is incarcerated, we are all human,” she added. “No matter what, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
At a time of anti-trans sentiment, a New York lawsuit brings hope for the community
Black trans woman who sued over mistreatment, abuse at N.Y. jail reaches landmark settlement
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