After a year and multiple lawsuits, a transgender woman imprisoned in Illinois will be transferred from a men's facility to a women’s prison.
Strawberry Hampton was transferred this week from Dixon Correctional Center to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois, according to a press release from The MacArthur Justice Center.
The MacArthur Justice Center, with the Uptown People’s Law Center, led Hampton’s legal battle against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), which sought to keep the woman in a men's prison.
“Strawberry has fought every day to be free from sexual violence and to have the IDOC recognize that she is a woman,” said MacArthur attorney Vanessa del Valle. “This transfer, which occurred after a year of hard-fought litigation and two emergency hearings, is a victory for her and a testament to her strength and courage. But IDOC has done nothing to remedy the systemic failures that created the persistent harm Strawberry has endured since she entered IDOC custody. The fight for Strawberry and for all trans women in IDOC has only just begun.”
Hampton has been confined in four different male facilities since she began her decade-long sentence for robbery two years ago. The 27-year-old filed multiple lawsuits to obtain a transfer to a female facility, claiming she experienced mistreatment at the hands of correctional officers and other inmates, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that mistreatment included a guard forcing her to expose her genitals. Her suit claims she was also forced to have phone sex, to masturbate for an audience and to perform sex acts with another transgender inmate for the guards’ amusement.
She was also reportedly called slurs including “gay, fag, thing and it,” reports the Chicago Reader. While at Dixon, she was sexually assaulted and physically threatened by another inmate.
In November, a federal judge ordered the IDOC to train its staff on how to treat transgender inmates and reconsider its denial of Hampton’s transfer request.
Hampton has lived as a woman since she was 5-years-old and began hormone therapy in 2016. The hormones have shrunken “her muscles and male anatomy,” and her testosterone levels are so low she is considered “similar to males who have been surgically castrated,” according to court documents.
“Strawberry’s struggle to live free from sexual assaults and harassment while in IDOC custody demonstrates a fundamental truth about prisons — they are inherently violent and only create harm,” said Sheila Bedi, another MacArthur lawyer. “Strawberry doesn’t belong in a women’s prison; she belongs at home with her family. But until she’s home, the very least the IDOC can do is to take this step towards remedying the discrimination and sexual violence Strawberry currently lives with on a daily basis.”
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