Christina Lusk is a transgender woman and inmate at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Moose Lake. Lusk was denied a request to be sent to a women’s prison at intake and is now suing, demanding to be moved and also citing serious harassment and assault at this facility.
Additional reporting from Jaclyn Diaz at NPR: This story is part of a series looking at transgender inmates in the U.S. and the challenges they face in confinement and upon release. The series focuses on topics such as being incarcerated in prisons that do not reflect their gender identity, the medical hurdles faced behind bars and rehousing after being released. The series includes dozens of interviews with inmates, experts and public officials.
“Lusk’s situation is one shared by many transgender people behind bars in the U.S. prison system. Because, in practice, they are often forced to stay in prisons according to their assigned sex at birth or genitalia at the time they were arrested, transgender inmates face greater risk of assault, discrimination, abuse and humiliation, according to attorneys, advocates and incarcerated individuals. Their housing violates federal civil rights and the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, they say.
“Generally speaking, prisons and jails are treacherous living spaces for transgender people. For transgender women who have transitioned to their affirmed gender and live as women in the community, being housed in a male facility is a veritable minefield,” Randi Ettner, a psychologist who specializes in treating transgender individuals, told NPR.”