Georgia settles lawsuit over hormone therapy for transgender inmate

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Dept. of Justice Backs Inmate Suing for Hormone Therapy

ATLANTA, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Georgia has settled a federal lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who was denied hormone treatments while serving time in a state prison, attorneys involved in the case said on Friday.

Ashley Diamond, 37, will receive an undisclosed amount of money from the state, according to the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented her.

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"We're pleased that we were able to favorably resolve this case on behalf of Ashley Diamond and bring international attention to the plight of transgender prisoners," Chinyere Ezie, a staff attorney for the center, said in the statement.

Diamond was in Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, when the lawsuit was filed.

According to the lawsuit, Diamond, a convicted burglar, had lived as a woman and had been taking hormones for 17 years before going to prison.

The U.S. Justice Department sided with Diamond on the claim that denying hormone treatments while in prison amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that led to physical pain, muscle spasms and loss of breast mass.

Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan referred questions to the state's Attorney General's office, which declined comment.

According to the lawsuit, Diamond, a convicted burglar, lived as a woman before going to prison and took hormones. While in prison, Diamond was placed in unsafe conditions with violent men, the lawsuit claimed.

After Diamond sued the state, Georgia changed its policy and made transgender inmates eligible for hormone therapy and medical and mental health evaluations and treatment plans.

"Because of the case, dozens of transgender inmates across the state are now receiving hormone therapy for the first time since entering custody," the law center noted.

Diamond was released from prison last August.

"Though I am pleased with this resolution, I remain dedicated to fighting for the rights of transgender people both in and out of prison," Diamond said in a statement.

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