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Transgender woman sent to men’s cell unit in D.C. jail wins fight for transfer

A transgender woman has sued D.C. officials, saying the Department of Corrections discriminated against her by placing her in a men’s unit of the jail. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

A transgender woman who filed a discrimination lawsuit against D.C. officials after the Department of Corrections placed her in a men’s unit at the jail against her wishes was transferred to a facility for women Friday, according to her lawyers.

Sunday Hinton had been housed in the men’s unit since April 26, according to the lawsuit, while she was detained over allegations of an unarmed burglary with intent to steal $20.

The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. and the public defender’s office filed the suit Tuesday as a class action in U.S. District Court in Washington, arguing Hinton was being discriminated against based on her gender identity and sex.

Transgender woman sues D.C. jail over alleged discrimination after she was housed in men’s unit

The lawsuit claimed that the Department of Corrections was using a discriminatory gender housing policy that classifies “an inmate who has male genitals as male and one who has female genitals as female” but doesn’t account for one’s gender identity.

In an earlier statement, the jail said that Hinton spent 14 days in quarantine as part of the facility’s coronavirus safety protocol and that her next stop would be before the Transgender Housing Committee to determine her placement. But the lawsuit alleges that committee has not convened since January 2020.

The ACLU announced Hinton’s transfer Friday, after the District’s attorneys notified her 15 minutes before a scheduled court hearing that she would be moved to a women’s unit in the Correctional Treatment Facility.

The ACLU said the decision came after it filed court documents Thursday outlining additional information it said supported its case.

Attorneys representing Hinton said they will continue with the suit, hoping to represent all transgender people within Department of Corrections custody “facing the same issue.”

“We’re afraid Ms. Hinton is just the tip of the iceberg,” Scott Michelman of the ACLU-D.C. said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment.

Emily Davies contributed to this report.

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