New York pays trans ‘woman’ $160k after staff ‘misgendered’ the biological male in an all-male jail

A biological man who identifies as a transgender woman has been paid $160,000 by the state of New York after he was “misgendered” while incarcerated in an all-male jail.

While imprisoned for six weeks in 2021 at the Broome County Jail on charges of criminal contempt and assault, Makyyla Holland, 25, said he suffered abuse and discrimination at the hands of the correctional officers.

Holland sued, alleging that he was “denied access to her medication, including her hormone therapy and antidepressants; was beaten by correctional officers after refusing to take off her clothes in front of male guards; and was forced to live and shower with male inmates,” NPR reports, using the politically correct “she/her” pronouns.

(Video: YouTube)

In what the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which aided in his case, called a “landmark settlement,” Holland received the six-figure payout and “Broome County has agreed to a wide-sweeping policy that affirms the rights of transgender people with respect to housing placement, access to medical care, searches, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.”

“I was humiliated by Broome County jail staff because I am a transgender woman. I was harassed, mocked, misgendered and worse: jail staff strip-searched me, beat me up, placed me in the male section of the jail, and withheld my hormones for a period of time, forcing me to go into agonizing withdrawal,” Holland said.

“I just felt I was a laughing stock there I was being discriminated against because of me being a trans woman,” he said. “That put me at a high risk of harassment. I had to adapt to what the jail put me through.”

According to the NYCLU, under the settlement, in addition to the $160K for Holland’s pain and suffering, Broome County has now agreed to:

  • House people consistent with their gender identity or within the unit consistent with the sex designation the person in custody believes is safest for them, with limited exceptions.
  • Conduct searches consistent with the person in custody’s own view of what gender officer would be safest to perform the search, with limited exceptions.
  • Ensure that staff at the jail respect a person’s gender identity in all other contexts, including name and pronoun use.
  • Ensure access to clothing and toiletry items consistent with a person’s gender identity, and facilitate access to gender-affirming items such as binders, wigs, and gaffs.
  • Ensure access to medical care free from discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, including access to medical care for treatment of gender dysphoria.

“No one should be subjected to violence, illegally strip searched, denied necessary medical care, or forced into unsafe housing conditions while in jail, and we are pleased that Broome County has agreed to implement policies that will better protect transgender people’s safety while in custody,” said Shayna Medley, Senior Litigation Staff Attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. “At a time when trans people are increasingly under attack across the country, it is even more important for states and local governments to affirmatively protect trans people in custody. From this policy in Broome County to similar policies we’ve achieved in other settlements in recent years, TLDEF remains committed to fighting for the rights of transgender people interacting with the carceral system.”

“No one should ever have to go through what I went through at the Broome County Jail and I am so grateful that with this new policy hopefully no one else ever will,” Holland said via the NYCLU. “This is a great outcome.”

Melissa Fine


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