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ACLU Wants Independent Monitor of Care For Transgender Prisoners In Illinois

ACLU of Illinois
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A group of transgender women has asked for an independent monitor of the Illinois Department of Corrections because the agency has not improved those inmates’ care as ordered by a judge last year.

Some of the women,  who are housed at  prisons throughout the system, have harmed themselves or attempted suicide, said  Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois.

“In many instances, you have the circumstance where the women who are being held in male facilities are subjected regularly to strip searches... by male guards, which is humiliating and degrading and leads to serious kind of consequences,” he said.

According to a document filed by the ACLU in federal court Friday, IDOC has continued the  “practice of depriving gender dysphoric prisoners of medically necessary social transition, including. . . assigning housing based on genitalia and/or physical size or appearance.”

An IDOC spokesperson said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.

According to Yohnka, the Department of Corrections’ representatives admitted  under oath that practices, such as strip searches by male guards, continue.

“We think that an independent monitor could help them work through these problems," he said.

Six transgender women are named plaintiffs but the suit covers about a hundred.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.