Diamond v. Ward, et al.

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

November 23, 2020

Current Status 

The Center for Constitutional Rights and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint on behalf of Ashley Diamond against the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) on November 23, 2020. GDC filed its answer on February 16, 2021. An amended complaint was filed the same day.

Co-Counsel 

Client(s) 

Case Description 

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 is once again trying to survive brutal and unrelenting abuse and mistreatment as a trans woman in GDC men's prisons. She has 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(Diamond I) triggered significant reforms in the treatment of incarcerated trans people in Georgia and nationwide: GDC rescinded its “freeze frame” policy that prevented many trans people from receiving the hormone therapy treatment they need while imprisoned, and adopted a sexual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 current experience and those of trans individuals in Georgia prisons show 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 are advocating for her transfer from a men’s facility, where she remains a target of violence, as well as for access to vital healthcare. We also argue 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 has 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.”

Case Timeline

February 16, 2021
Complaint is amended
February 16, 2021
Complaint is amended
January 26, 2021
Defendants file answers
January 26, 2021
Defendants file answers
GDC defendants file their answer on February 16, 2021, while another individual defendant files an answer on January 26, 2021.
November 23, 2020
Complaint filed against Georgia Department of Corrections