Dallas

Jailers forced Texas transgender woman to show her genitals, shower with men, lawsuit says

Valerie Jackson, 32, alleges that Dallas County jail officials violated her constitutional rights.
Valerie Jackson, 32, alleges that Dallas County jail officials violated her constitutional rights.

Jailers in Dallas County made a transgender woman strip and show them her genitals in order to verify her gender, then grouped her in the jail with men, where male inmates masturbated in front of her in the shower, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Texas.

Valerie Jackson, 32, filed the lawsuit in Northern District of Texas court Friday, alleging that then Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and the 21 other defendants — 13 of whom were not individually named in the lawsuit — violated her constitutional rights when she was arrested for bringing a gun to Love Field airport in 2016.

When she was being processed into jail on Nov. 4, 2016, the lawsuit says, she was originally given a wristband listing her gender as female, but after she was seen by a jail nurse, one of the unnamed defendants began to ask her about her menstrual cycles.

When she told them that she has no menstrual cycles, because she does not have a uterus, jail officers asked her whether she had a sex change.

After she explained to the officers that she is transgender, one asked her, “have you had everything done, even down there?” the lawsuit alleges.

She falsely told the officer that yes, she had, according to the lawsuit.

She was then told that in order to verify her gender, she would need to show two jail nurses.

“We need to know if you’ve had a sex change or not. We need to see if you have a penis or vagina,” Dallas County jail officer Lizyamma Samuel told Jackson, according to the lawsuit. “We have to protect you. We can’t put you with men if you have a vagina. You are coming up in the system as a male. It doesn’t matter what you do — it can never be changed.”

Eventually, the jailers determined her to be a male in the county’s eyes.

Jackson alleges that she was twice forced to shower with male inmates, and both times male inmates stared at her while they masturbated in the bank of showers.

Dallas County Sheriff’s spokesman Raul Reyna told the Dallas Morning News that since the issue is in litigation, Sheriff Marian Brown would not comment. Brown is the current sheriff, and Valdez was the sheriff when Jackson was incarcerated.

The lawsuit contends that Dallas County officials violated Jackson’s civil rights when they broke the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which says that jails “shall not search or physically examine a transgender or intersex detainee for the sole purpose of determining the detainee’s genital status,” during her intake.

A transgender inmate, currently housed at Dixon Correctional Center, is suing DOC officials. She says she has suffered physical and verbal abuse from both staff and prisoners at several facilities.

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