Former prisoner undergoing sex change files suit

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 28 2002 11:00 PM ET

A Canadian citizen who was in the process of transitioning from a biological male to a female when sent to Montana State Prison in 1999 is suing the state and federal government for alleged mistreatment while behind bars. Alexandria Tucker's lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court last week, seeks $18 million in damages from Montana and federal officials whom Tucker holds responsible for abuses allegedly suffered while locked in a men's prison for 19 months.

The defendants displayed a "deliberate and continued pattern and practice of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, assault, causing bodily injury toward persons thought to be homosexual and/or transsexual," Tucker's complaint said. "Defendants mistook plaintiff's gender identity crisis as an invitation to sexually abuse, assault, and harm plaintiff."

Diana Leibinger-Koch, chief attorney for the Montana Department of Corrections, said Tuesday that the agency takes seriously Tucker's allegations but that she doubts many of them are true. "I think very little of this is true because I know the officers at Montana State Prison and they're very professional," she said. "Their conduct does not include things like this."

Although Tucker's gender situation two years after being paroled is unclear from the complaint, Tucker had male genitals and augmented breasts and was undergoing hormone treatments when arrested in 1998. Tucker, who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, claimed that when she attempted to complain about her treatment at the time, her complaints were met with retaliation by prison staff. She alleges that the federal government was at fault for ignoring her written complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice.