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SPLC threatens to sue state of Georgia on behalf of transgender inmate

Ashley Diamond, who says he's transgender, wants the Georgia prison system to pay for hormone treatments while he is incarcerated. (Special photo)

Ashley Diamond, who says he's transgender, wants the Georgia prison system to pay for hormone treatments while he is incarcerated. (Special photo)

By Jeremy Redmon

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA (MCT) — The Southern Poverty Law Center is threatening to sue in federal court if Georgia prison officials don’t provide hormone treatment for a transgender inmate.

The Alabama-based civil rights organization says the Georgia Department of Corrections is violating its own policies and Ashley Diamond’s constitutional rights by not providing her with the treatment.

State prison officials have retaliated against Diamond by placing her in solitary confinement for more than a week for “pretending to be a woman,” the SPLC said in a letter sent Tuesday to Brian Ownens, Georgia’s corrections commissioner.

Diamond is being held in the Valdosta State Prison on burglary, theft and entering a vehicle charges, state records show. She started receiving hormone treatment at the age of 17, according to the SPLC. She stopped receiving the treatment two years ago, when she was sent to prison at the age of 34.

The Corrections Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Diamond’s body has “changed dramatically” since she stopped receiving her treatment, according to the SPLC. Her voice has deepened and she has grown facial hair. Meanwhile, she has suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, the SPLC said.

“I am only asking for respect,” Diamond said in a statement issued through the SPLC. “No one would deny a diabetic prisoner insulin. No one would sentence a person to a gender change. But because I am transgender, I am denied basic medical care and forced to change gender. Nobody should be sentenced to torture like this.”