Brown Goldstein & Levy partners Eve Hill and Jessie Weber were quoted in a recent article by The Baltimore Sun detailing the abuse that BGL clients Chelsea Gilliam, Kennedy Holland, and Chloe Grey endured – and continue to endure – as transgender women while incarcerated in Maryland correctional facilities, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), and Eighth Amendment.
In an interview with the The Baltimore Sun, Ms. Holland recounted a terrifying experience wherein incarcerated man pulled her into a prison cell and told her he and his cellmate could rape her if they wanted to. “I could go nowhere. I could do nothing,” Ms. Holland said. “And I really was helpless in that situation, at that moment, to where if they decided to assault me or something was to happen, there would be nothing that I could do.”
BGL first filed Chelsea Gilliam, et al., v. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, et al. on April 18, 2023, on behalf of Ms. Gilliam, a transgender woman who was held at two men’s correctional facilities, where she suffered sexual assault, denial of hormone treatment, and ongoing harassment because of her transgender status. Later, Ms. Holland and Ms. Grey joined the suit.
Unfortunately, incarcerated trans individuals are regularly housed according to their assigned sex at birth instead of their gender identity, according to attorneys, advocates, and a recent Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services report.
“I’m not aware of anybody who’s been housed based on their gender identity,” said Eve Hill. “They won’t house trans women with women, they’ll only house them with men. No matter how long they’ve been in transition, no matter how far in the transition process when they come there,” she continued.
As detailed in the complaint, all plaintiffs experienced worsening gender dysphoria and suffered anxiety and depression as a result of the discriminatory and dangerous treatment they suffered at the hands of the State.
“There was nothing in the experience of incarceration that felt as though it was to rehabilitate,” Ms. Holland told The Sun. “It was strictly warehousing — as well as the added punishment of being a trans woman incarcerated with, unfortunately, male prisoners.”
BGL recently obtained a victory in the lawsuit when U.S. District Judge Matthew Maddox issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to Ms. Grey, a trans woman who remains in prison. The TRO requires the State to evaluate Ms. Grey for transfer to a women’s prison within 30 days; videotape every time she is given her hormone treatment, because staff routinely denied her medication while writing otherwise in medical records; ensure she is protected from alleged abusers; and provide her with razors and facial hair treatment.
“While the battle for justice for our clients is by no means over, we are pleased to be moving in the right direction,” said Jessie Weber.
In addition to Eve and Jessie, plaintiffs are represented by Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Lauren DiMartino, and Evan Monod of Brown Goldstein & Levy and co-counsel, Deborah Golden of the Law Office of Deborah M. Golden.
Founded in 1982, Brown Goldstein & Levy is a law firm based in Baltimore, Maryland, with an office in Washington, D.C. The firm is nationally recognized in a wide variety of practice areas, including complex civil and commercial litigation, civil rights, health care, family law, and criminal defense. Above all else, Brown, Goldstein & Levy is a client-centered law firm that brings decades of experience and passionate, effective advocacy to your fight for justice.