The New York Civil Liberties Union, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the law firm BakerHostetler filed a lawsuit yesterday against Steuben County, the Steuben County Sheriff, and several officials and employees at the Steuben County Jail on behalf of a transgender woman whom jail officials housed in a men’s facility while she was awaiting trial.
Jena Faith, a military veteran, spent four weeks in Steuben County jail awaiting trial. She was initially housed in the jail’s women’s facility without incident. Officials abruptly transferred her to the men’s facility, despite the fact that she has been recognized in all aspects of her life as a woman for many years, from her daily interactions with friends and family, to the gender marker on her New York driver’s license and U.S. Social Security records, to being recognized as a woman at the VA medical center.
As a woman in the men’s facility, she lived a nightmare, suffering sexual harassment from other incarcerated individuals, mistreatment at the hands of guards, and denial of medication prescribed by her physician. She spent her days being sick and afraid to leave her cell.
The lawsuit requests that the court affirm that transgender New Yorkers are entitled to be housed in jail or prison facilities consistent with their gender identity, and seeks damages to compensate Ms. Faith for the harm she suffered.