(CNN)A transgender woman is suing the District of Columbia after its Department of Corrections placed her in a men's jail unit despite her telling officials she identifies as a woman, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Transgender woman sues District of Columbia after Department of Corrections houses her in a men's unit
Sunday Hinton was placed into DOC custody on April 26 on accusations of "unarmed burglary with the intent to steal twenty dollars," the lawsuit says. When Hinton's public defender asked for her to be moved to a women's unit, the DOC gave Hinton the option of going to a men's unit or "protective custody," within a men's unit, which the American Civil Liberties Union of DC says is essentially solitary confinement.
A DOC policy document states that "For the safety, security and order of the facility, the DOC classifies and houses male and female offenders in separate housing units. DOC shall classify an inmate who has male genitals as a male and one who has female genitals as a female, unless otherwise recommended by the Transgender Housing Committee and approved in accordance with this policy."
The lawsuit filed Tuesday is on behalf of Hinton and other transgender people in DOC custody, and seeks to strike down the DOC policy that determines housing based on anatomy.
"DOC's demeaning policy discriminates against transgender individuals and subjects them to a high risk of physical harm, violating Ms. Hinton's constitutional rights to equal protection and due process, as well as her statutory rights under the D.C. Human Rights Act. DOC's policy also conflicts with federal regulations under the Prison Rape Elimination Act," the ACLU of DC said