The 56-year-old transgender inmate claims that the state Department of Corrections refuses to house her in a women’s facility, despite having already undergone hormone therapy.
A transgender Minnesota inmate has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections, claiming the agency discriminated against her by placing the biological male inside a men’s facility.
According to M.P.R., Christina Lusk “came out” as transgender when she was 14 years old.
Lusk later started hormone therapy and legally changed her name in 2018.
One year later, the 56-year-old Lusk was arrested for and convicted of first-degree drug possession. The Department of Corrections assigned her to Moose Lake, an all-men’s correctional facility.
In the lawsuit filed on behalf of Lusk, attorney Jess Braverman of Gender Justice said that the state is deferring Lusk’s gender-affirming surgeries until her release in 2024.
Braverman further claims that her client is unsafe at Moose Lake, where she is at increased risk of physical violence and sexual assault.
“She’s a woman, and suddenly she’s placed in a men’s facility. She’s locked in a cell with a number of men, and she’s really exposed to harassment and violence in that setting,” Braverman told M.P.R.
KROC.com notes that Lusk has faced unusual and contradictory treatment: she has been “reprimanded” for having breasts and wearing women’s clothing, but scolded for not wearing a bra when her undergarments were in the wash.
Braverman said that the Department of Corrections has refused requests to transfer Lusk to a woman’s prison in Shakopee.
“They typically make their placement decisions, it’s my understanding, based on genitalia, which they’re not supposed to do,” Braverman said. “They need to really listen to the transgender people who are incarcerated, and what they have to say about their own sense of safety. They do have a duty of care to the people who are in their custody.”
Lusk, adds M.P.R., first filed a complaint with the state Department of Corrections in 2020, alleging that prison staff housed her in a room with seven men and compelled her to change her clothes and use the washroom with male inmates.
Lusk also said that prison staff insisted on calling her by her former name.
While the department did not respond to M.P.R.’s request for comment, agency officials said that Corrections is “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being” of transgender persons in their custody.
The D.O.C. further said that it has a Transgender Committee that makes recommendations on where inmates should be placed.
The Committee, adds M.P.R., has repeatedly declined her requests for a facility reassignment without explanation.