Diamond v. Ward, et al.

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

November 23, 2020

Current Status 

On April 9, 2021, Ms. Diamond filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, requesting that the court order GDC to protect her from attacks and retaliation and provide her necessary care. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest on April 22, 2021. A hearing was held at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia in Macon, Georgia, on May 12-13, 2021.

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(Diamond I) triggered significant reforms in the treatment of incarcerated trans people in Georgia and nationwide: GDC rescinded its “freeze frame” policy that prevented many trans people from receiving the hormone therapy treatment they need while imprisoned, and adopted a sexual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

May 12-13, 2021
Hearing at U.S. District Court for Middle District of Georgia in Macon, Georgia
May 12-13, 2021
Hearing at U.S. District Court for Middle District of Georgia in Macon, Georgia
April 22, 2021
Statement of Interest filed by U.S. Department of Justice
April 22, 2021
Statement of Interest filed by U.S. Department of Justice
April 9, 2021
Ashley Diamond files motion for preliminary injunction
April 9, 2021
Ashley Diamond files motion for preliminary injunction
Ms. Diamond's emergency motion asks the court to order that GDC protect her from both attacks and retaliation, and that she be provided proper care - including by transferring her to a female facility. GDC defendants file their opposition on May 5, 2021, and we file our reply on May 10, 2021.
March 1, 2021
Defendants file answers to amended complaint
March 1, 2021
Defendants file answers to amended complaint
GDC defendants file their answer on March 9, 2021, while an individual defendant files an answer on March 1, 2021.
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