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Transgender inmate gets rare transfer to a female prison

This undated photo provided by the Illinois Department of Correction shows The “Strawberry” Hampton. The transgender woman serving a 10-year sentence in Illinois for burglary has been moved from a man to a woman’s prison in one of the first cases of its kind in the state. Lawyers for Hampton announced her transfer Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, after a year of resistance from the Illinois Department of Corrections. (Illinois Department of Correction, via AP)

CHICAGO – A transgender woman serving a 10-year sentence in Illinois for burglary has been moved from a man to a woman’s prison in what could be a first for the state, her lawyers announced Thursday.

The “Strawberry” Hampton , 27, was moved after a long legal battle and the resistance from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Hampton, of Chicago, at the request of the transfer in 2017, on the grounds they would be less vulnerable to sexual violence, taunting and beatings she was subjected to a male prison, according to federal lawsuits filed on its behalf by the MacArthur Justice Center and the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago.

They had moved in the last week of an all-male prison in Dixon, in northern Illinois, the women’s Logan Correctional Center more than 100 km away in the centre of Illinois, her attorneys said.

The IDOC’s hand was forced last month by a federal district court found that Hampton had a strong case that her equal protection rights were violated. Her lawyers said it was the second decision in the country by a federal court.

One of her lawyers, Vanessa del Valle, hailed the transfer as a victory for transgender rights. But she added that the IDOC is still not resolved “systematic errors” that lead to abuse of transgender prisoners.

“The fight for the Strawberries-and for all trans-women in the IDOC has only just started,” del Valle said.

The IDOC confirmed that the transfer in a brief Thursday statement, adding that the agency “carefully considered Hampton housing placement for the making of the transfer.” In previous court filings, the IDOC said a concern was that Hampton would pose a risk to female inmates if moved.

Hampton described how the guards and fellow inmates regularly the butt of her for the cruel treatment at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois, and earlier in Pinckneyville Correctional Center. While at the Pinckneyville prison, they alleged guards made her and other transgender inmates perform sexual acts on each other as the guards hurled slurs and laughed.

Not able to comfortably represent himself and the female in the man from the prison where she could not wear the hair or the nails for too long has been devastating psychologically, according to a filing from her attorneys.

“I feel inhuman,” Hampton was quoted as saying.

While prison officials in most states have the option of assigning of male-to-female transgender prisoners in women’s prisons, it rarely happens. The most recent federal data from 2016 indicates that there is no transgender female inmates in Illinois’ two female prisons; there were 28 transgender women in the state of the 24 male prisons.

In court filings, the IDOC also doubt about Hampton’s gender-identity — holding Hampton in the first sessions in the prison, the health of the employees never claimed to be transgender and, in the words of one submission, “was OK with being male.”

But clinical psychiatrist George Brown said in a statement at a federal district court that Hampton showed all the characteristics of someone who are convinced of their female identity, the adding of Hampton has identified as female since the age of 5 years.

Brown also challenged the department argues that Hampton would have a greater risk for women, because they have not had sex assignment surgery, saying such a view conflicts with all the reliable medical literature.” He said Hampton’s low testosterone levels due to previous hormone treatments meant she was “functional chemically castrated.”

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