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Broome County Jail Discrimination Incident: Historic Settlement Ensures Justice for Transgender Woman

A New York jail has agreed to implement LGBTQ prison reform as part of a groundbreaking settlement with a transgender woman. Micheal O'Neal/NYCLU

In New York, a transgender woman has secured a substantial settlement with Broome County Jail following her ordeal of enduring violence, facing discrimination, and being denied necessary medical attention during her time in custody at Broome County Jail.

Makyyla Holland, a 25-year-old transgender woman, alleged that she experienced abuse and discrimination from correctional officers at Broome County Jail during her six-week custody. Micheal O’Neal/NYCLU

Broome County Jail will implement new policies to uphold the rights of transgender individuals in the jail following a complaint by a woman who claimed she experienced discrimination while in custody.

Makyyla Holland, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, reached a settlement with the county on Thursday after filing a lawsuit in 2022. She alleged that she was subjected to various forms of harassment, including physical abuse, being misgendered, and being denied access to medication and commissary items during her time at Broome County Jail in 2021.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Broome County Jail county will compensate Holland with $160,000 for the suffering she experienced as part of the settlement.

In a written statement, Holland expressed her gratitude for the new policy, stating that no one should have to endure what she went through at the Broome County Jail. She also mentioned her determination to fight for the rights of the transgender community, both in New York and elsewhere, to ensure that no one else has to go through similar experiences.

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Broome County Jail will change its policies to comply with federal and state laws, as stated by the NYCLU and TLDEF. Specifically, the county will:

  • Place individuals in housing that aligns with their gender identity or in a unit that aligns with the gender they feel safest in.
  • Conduct searches based on the gender officer that the individual in custody feels safest with.
  • Ensure that jail staff respects a person’s gender identity in all aspects, including the use of their preferred name and pronouns.
  • Provide access to clothing and toiletry items that align with a person’s gender identity, and assist in obtaining gender-affirming items like binders, wigs, and gaffs.
  • Guarantee access to non-discriminatory medical care, regardless of sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, including treatment for gender dysphoria.

Broome County Jail Sheriff Fred Akshar expressed his satisfaction with the resolution that establishes clear LGBTI Guidelines, which were previously non-existent. These guidelines aim to address the rights of LGBTI inmates while ensuring the safety and security of individuals at the Broome County Correctional Facility. Sheriff Akshar emphasized that this is an important step towards modernizing policies to meet the needs of the community, creating a better and safer environment for everyone in Broome County.

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