At a Glance
On the eve of jury trial in January 2023, Ms. Diamond decided to forego the trial in order to focus on her healing. Ms. Diamond was released on August 1, 2022.
Southern Poverty Law Center
Charles F. Coleman, Jr.
Ashley Diamond is a Black trans woman and prisoners’ rights activist from Rome, Georgia, whose landmark lawsuit challenging the cruel and unusual treatment of incarcerated trans people by the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) made national headlines in 2015. Following her re-entry into GDC custody after a technical parole violation, Ashley found herself once again trying to survive brutal and unrelenting abuse and mistreatment as a trans woman in GDC men's prisons. She faced repeated sexual assaults, denial of vital healthcare, and other threats to her safety.
Ashley’s first case (Diamond I) triggered significant reforms in the treatment of incarcerated trans people in Georgia and nationwide: GDC rescinded its “freeze frame” policy that prevented many trans people from receiving the hormone therapy treatment they need while imprisoned, and adopted a sexual assault prevention policy that is more closely aligned with federal standards. Before the case was settled, Ashley succeeded in defeating GDC's motion to dismiss the case, and the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in with a Statement of Interest discussing the unconstitutionality of GDC's policies and its obligation to treat incarcerated people with gender dysphoria. While this was a huge victory, Ashley’s later experience and that of other trans individuals in Georgia prisons showed that these are policies on paper, but not in practice — prompting this lawsuit.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed this case on behalf of Ashley and advocated for her transfer from a men’s facility, where she was a target of violence, as well as for access to vital healthcare. We also argued that the minimum standards of adequate care for gender dysphoria go beyond just hormone therapy and must include additional treatments that allow individuals to affirm their gender. The abuses and deprivations that Ashley endured are part of a larger custom, practice, or unwritten policy of disregarding the rights of trans people in GDC custody and failing to protect them from violence.
Ashley's brutal experiences while incarcerated and on parole illustrate the precarity and bias faced by trans people nationwide. This includes navigating the discrimination-to-incarceration pipeline, where trans people face discrimination in education, employment, health care, and housing that limits their options and criminalizes their survival; for Ashley, that includes her incarceration for engaging in a survival-based offense. Despite this, Ashley recognizes her leadership in the movement for trans liberation, stating: “This fight is not just my fight; it’s our fight. My hope is that this lawsuit forever changes the way transgender people in Georgia are treated, so that the future is brighter for people like me.”