Elton John, Michael Stipe call for protection of transgender inmates

Michael Stipe (left) and Elton John
Michael Stipe (left) and Elton John

NEW YORK — Elton John and Michael Stipe are calling for the equal rights of transgender inmates following claims that a transgender woman was mistreated at a Georgia prison.

“Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, and yet they continue to face horrific injustices,” according to a joint statement they released Tuesday.

Last week the Justice Department said prison officials must treat an inmate’s gender identity condition just as they would treat any other medical or mental health condition following a February lawsuit from the Southern Poverty Law Center filed against Georgia Department of Corrections officials on behalf of Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman.

According to the lawsuit, prison officials did not provide sufficient treatment for 36-year-old Diamond’s gender dysphoria. The lawsuit also said Diamond was without hormone treatment for three years and her body suffered as a result, and that she had been sexually assaulted and ridiculed in prison.

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“More often than not, assaults in part go unreported because the perpetrators are prison guards, wardens and staff,” said Stipe and John, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “This is outrageous, and the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned.”

Last week, a judge ordered California’s corrections department to provide a transgender inmate with sex-reassignment surgery. It was the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state.

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