A transgender woman who suffered rape and other forms of sexual abuse during her sentence in a state-run Colorado prison was awarded $170,000 in damages last Wednesday.
Lindsay Saunders-Velez was sent to an all-male prison facility in 2017 after violating certain terms of her pre-existent probation.
In prison, she was regularly put through strip searches by male guards, repeatedly threatened with sexual abuse by other inmates, and refused access to female sanitary and hygiene items despite multiple pleas.
In 2018, Saunders-Velez took to court and demanded a separate disciplinary pod away from the four men there, only for the request to be rejected.
She was then raped by one of the four men, subsequently being forced to go to the hospital because of the injuries sustained.
Since last week’s landmark ruling in favour of the 21-year-old, many LGBTQ activists have also called for a more widespread reformation of prison laws for transgender inmates throughout America.
Speaking on the aforementioned issue, Colorado Police issued the following statement, “The Colorado DOC has worked diligently to develop and implement policies and procedures directly aimed at the fair, appropriate, and respectful treatment of transgender offenders. We will continue to be inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all of our LGBTQ offenders.”
Saunders-Velez has since been shifted to another facility where she will only be monitored by female guards and is scheduled to be released from prison this coming Autumn.
Remarking on the ruling that has large-scale repercussions for some 3,200 transgender inmates currently in the United States’ prison network, Saunders-Velez’s lawyer Paula Greisen said, “Being a member of the LGBT community and advocating for human rights is a very difficult thing to do for a very disenfranchised community. She did it even though she paid a high cost.”