The recent debate over gay rights and religious freedom took place on a largely theoretical level, with both sides posing various “what ifs” regarding the horrors that the other side’s position would inflict on theoretical human beings.
For Ashley Diamond, it’s anything but theoretical. Today’s New York Times features a profile of Diamond, a transgender woman from Rome, Ga. who was sentenced to more than 10 years in state prison for burglary, forgery, escape and other charges. Under federal law, Diamond should have been given special protections in prison against rape and abuse, but in a lawsuit filed against the state, she accuses state corrections officials of ignoring those requirements.
The result, she alleges, is seven separate instances of rape, including gang rape, just since 2012. The state also illegally halted hormone treatments that Diamond had taken for the previous 17 years, the suit alleges.
As the Times article documents, Diamond’s own behavior and poor choices put her behind bars. On the other hand, though, she has dealt with things that most of us have trouble even imagining — neither you nor I would ever want to try to walk a mile in her pumps. The experience of feeling trapped from childhood in a body of the opposite gender would be terrifying.
And nothing justifies repeated rape and abuse in a setting in which you are helpless to protect yourself. If the facts alleged in the lawsuit hold up in court, Georgia corrections officials have been cavalierly irresponsible about throwing Diamond into the general prison population, knowingly exposing her to guaranteed physical violence. They should be held accountable for their actions, just as Diamond has been.