Hinton has been housed in the men’s unit since April 26, according to the lawsuit. She was detained over allegations of an unarmed burglary with intent to steal $20, according to the complaint.
“I would like to be housed in a general population women’s unit because I am a transgender woman and identify as a woman,” Hinton said in a statement released by the ACLU of D.C.
In a statement, the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) said it is “dedicated to the safety and security of all residents in its care and custody” and “committed to following its policies and procedures relating to housing transgender residents.”
The statement said Hinton recently arrived in DOC custody and was placed into single-occupancy quarantine for 14 days per covid-19 protocols.
“Once that quarantine ends, Ms. Hinton will go before the Transgender Housing Committee to determine her housing based on safety needs, housing availability, and gender identity,” the statement from the jail said.
The gender housing policy of the DOC by default classifies “an inmate who has male genitals as male and one who has female genitals as female,” according to a PDF posted on its website.
The policy states that the department can reassign housing for transgender individuals based on recommendations by the Transgender Housing Committee, which is composed of a DOC social worker, a medical practitioner, a mental health clinician and others.
The lawsuit alleges that the Transgender Housing Committee has not convened since January 2020 and requests that the DOC reactivate it.
It also alleges that when a public defender asked the DOC to move Hinton to the women’s unit, a lawyer from the DOC’s Office of the General Counsel said Hinton would have to remain on the men’s side if “she is still anatomically male.”
Hinton’s only other option was housing in a “protective custody men’s unit,” which is “functionally equivalent to solitary confinement,” the lawsuit asserts.
“DOC’s policy of focusing on anatomy rather than gender identity is both discriminatory and dangerous. It forces trans individuals, particularly trans women, to choose between a heightened risk of sexual violence and a near-certain mental health crisis,” Megan Yan, an attorney for ACLU of D.C., said in a statement.
A member of the Transgender Housing Committee, according to the complaint, also told Hinton’s attorney that the committee considers whether someone has had “full [gender] reassignment surgery” in deciding where to house residents.
In addition to the lawsuit, the ACLU of D.C. and the public defender’s office filed for emergency relief to transfer Hinton to a general population women’s unit and other motions fighting the jail’s “use of anatomy as the default or sole criterion in housing assignments.”