A transgender woman is suing the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department after officers placed her in a jail cell with three men, one of whom viciously beat her and broke her jaw.
The victim, Kristina Frost, has still not fully recovered, according the San Diego Union-Tribune. She has undergone multiple surgeries and also had her jaw wired shut.
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The lawsuit reportedly explains that when Frost was brought in for a minor offense, her driver’s license and DMV records both identified her as a woman.
“Despite this, deputies repeatedly misgendered Ms. Frost,” it said, “both in person and in official reports documenting the assault giving rise to this case.”
The lawsuit also accuses the deputies on duty at the time of Frost’s attack of failing to take immediate action and pausing before intervening. It adds that it then took 12 hours for the deputies to seek medical help for Frost.
Frost’s placement in a cell with men was also an apparent violation of the department’s policy. A training bulletin declared that “an arrestee should be taken to a facility that coincides with the arrestee’s gender identity.”
The bulletin also emphasized the importance of safely housing LGBTQ people.
The lawsuit called attention to the overall neglect it alleges has been perpetrated by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, citing its status as having the highest inmate mortality rate as compared to other large counties in the state (the department alleges that the methodology in collecting that data was flawed)
“Ms. Frost’s assault was a foreseeable result of department personnel ignoring critical information, failing to protect people in the county’s care and failing to adequately monitor individuals in the county’s care and custody,” the lawsuit said.
Frost’s case is one of countless incidents of transgender inmates being housed incorrectly and abused while incarcerated.
A 2020 investigation by NBC News found that trans inmates are almost always housed according to their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.
“While many law-enforcement agencies have made significant progress towards better serving the LGBTQ community it is abundantly clear that disparities in service, treatment, and enforcement still exist,” wrote San Diego Pride in a statement following Frost’s attack.
“Transgender women are women,” the statement continued, “and should and should be treated accordingly. Law enforcement officials and agencies who are not following the law should be held accountable to their actions. We welcome everyone to engage in the ongoing criminal justice education and advocacy reform work needed in-service to the LGBT community.”