Moose Lake, MN

Should this jailed Moose Lake, MN transgender woman be suing for genital reassignment surgery?

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A transgender woman named Christina Lusk has sued for discrimination on the basis that she is transgender. Lusk is an inmate currently incarcerated in Minnesota. Additionally, aside from alleging discrimination by the state Department of Corrections (DOC), she also argues the DOC is deferring sex reassignment surgery.

Lusk, is 56 years old and identifies as a transgender woman who is serving a sentence for drug possession at the Moose Lake Correctional Facility. She deems that she is “socially, medically, and legally” female but is not recognized as such by the Minnesota Department of Corrections. The advocacy group Gender Justice made this claim in a lawsuit filed on Lusk’s behalf and seeking her transfer from the men’s prison to the state women’s prison in Shakopee.

Yahoo News reported that Lusk "filed a grievance with the DOC seeking vaginoplasty" in 2019, writing in the complaint: "I have been diagnosed with severe Gender Dysphoria. I have attempted suicide four times due to my severe distress caused by my GD as well as self mutilation. My mental capacity is under control, and I am able to make good decisions as far as surgery. I have letters of support from my primary physician, my gender specialist, my therapist, as well as my psychiatrist, only two letters are required for surgery but I go up and beyond what is required."

Her complaint goes on to recognize that the state of Minnesota recognizes Lusk as a woman, and yet the state Corrections Department placed her in a men’s prison. Here, the lawsuit claims, she is in a dangerous environment and subject to discrimination and potential harassment.

Furthermore, Attorney Jess Braverman with the group Gender Justice said the DOC is deferring Lusk's gender-affirming surgery until her release in 2024. Braverman added that her client is unsafe in Moose Lake.

"The Minnesota Department of Corrections said it is “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of transgender incarcerated individuals” and explained it considers accommodations for transgender prisoners on a case-by-case basis. The department said it screens transgender individuals upon entry to the prison system for potential vulnerability to sexual assault, as well as medical and mental health issues. The department did not offer comments specific to Lusk’s case."

In item 39 of the complaint and demand for a jury trial, the document states, "Ms. Lusk filed a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on January 8, 2020 alleging discriminatory treatment by the DOC, including denying her request for a transfer to the women’s facility, housing her in a room with seven men, and requiring her to change her clothes and use the bathroom with men; referring to her by her former name rather than her legal name; and denying her gender-affirming care that had been approved by her healthcare providers before her arrest."

The introduction of the document reads, "Christina Lusk is a transgender woman who is currently in the custody of the DOC. She is recognized legally and socially as female – including by the State of Minnesota. Yet, the Minnesota DOC treats Ms. Lusk as a man simply because she is transgender.
The DOC is housing Ms. Lusk at Minnesota Correctional Facility - Moose Lake (“Moose Lake”), a men’s facility. The DOC has placed Ms. Lusk at Moose Lake, rather than at the women’s facility, Shakopee, because she is transgender. Upon information and belief, the DOC makes their 2 gender-based placement on genitalia, in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Minnesota Constitution, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”).
The agency has not only placed Ms. Lusk with men subjecting her to discrimination and harassment, but for months the DOC refused to acknowledge her legal name, Christina Lusk, instead forcing her to use a male name that Ms. Lusk had legally changed and has not used in years. Ms. Lusk has also been denied medical care while in the DOC. In spite of her documented medical need, the DOC arbitrarily deferred Ms. Lusk’s gender-affirming surgery until after her release in 2024.
Through their discriminatory policies and practices, and their utter lack of competence regarding the medical and mental health needs of incarcerated transgender people, the DOC routinely fails the transgender Minnesotans, such as Ms. Lusk, who are placed in their care. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit to remedy illegal discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation, which includes gender identity, in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), Minn. Stat. § 363A.01, et seq., and violations of Ms. Lusk’s right to equal protection of the law, to bodily integrity and autonomy, and to be free from cruel or unusual punishment, enshrined in the Minnesota Constitution."

Minnesota residents, what do you think? Should Lusk be transferred to a woman's prison and allowed to have gender-affirming surgery? Let us know in the comments!

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