MOOSE LAKE, Minn. — A Minnesota transgender woman who’s serving prison time on a drug charge says she should not have been assigned to a men’s facility and has been sexually and verbally abused because of her gender identity.
Christina Lusk, 56, is suing the state Department of Corrections for discrimination. She has asked to be moved from the men’s prison in Moose Lake to the women’s prison in Shakopee.
Lusk, of Minneapolis, came out as transgender 14 years ago, started hormone therapy, and legally changed her name in 2018. The following year she pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession charge.
Jess Braverman, an attorney for the group Gender Justice, which is representing Lusk along with the Minneapolis law firm of Robins Kaplan, said her client is unsafe in Moose Lake.
“She’s a woman, and suddenly she’s placed in a men’s facility. She’s in a locked cell with a number of men, and she’s really exposed to harassment and violence in that setting,” Braverman said.
Lusak has been reprimanded for having breasts and wearing women’s clothing, yet also scolded for going without a bra while her bras were in the wash, the lawsuit contends.
Lusk filed the first of two complaints with the state Department of Human Rights in early 2020. She alleged that prison staff housed her in a room with seven men, required her to change her clothes and use the bathroom with men, and called her by her former name.
Both requests to be moved were denied without explanation, according to the suit. The agency did not comment on Lusk’s lawsuit directly, but it said in a statement to Minnesota Public Radio News that it’s “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being” of transgender people.
Robins Kaplan attorney Rebecca Bact told the Star Tribune her firm is assisting Lusk because she “deserves proper housing, healthcare and a dignified existence free from discrimination.”
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