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California Transgender Woman Beaten in Men’s Jail Wins Settlement

California Transgender Woman Beaten in Men’s Jail Wins Settlement

Trans Women Beaten in Men’s Jail Wins Settlement in California

The victim, who suffered a broken jaw requiring multiple surgeries, was housed in a men’s jail in apparent violation of county policy.

San Diego County has settled with a transgender woman who was beaten by a fellow inmate after being placed in a cell with three men at a men’s prison in 2020.

While admitting no guilt or liability in the case, San Diego County agreed to pay $275,000 to Kristina Frost for the incident that took place on November 20, 2020, at the Central Jail in downtown San Diego.

In the 2021 lawsuit filed in federal court, Frost said she had been arrested for a “book and release” crime where suspects are immediately released on the condition they appear at a later time to be officially booked, fingerprinted, and photographed. Instead, Frost said she was housed with three male suspects in the men’s facility in violation of county policy even though she presented as female at the time of her arrest and her driver's license listed her gender as female.

RELATED: Trans Woman Sues San Diego Sheriff's Office After Alleged Beating

“Sadly — and foreseeably — one of the men in the cell viciously attacked Ms. Frost,” the lawsuit stated. “His closed-fist punches to Ms. Frost’s face resulted in serious bodily injuries, including a broken jaw, so far requiring two surgeries to repair.”

The Sheriff’s Department disputed Frost’s version of events.

“The person who allegedly assaulted Miss Frost stated he was assaulted by Miss Frost first and stated he acted in self-defense,” spokesperson Lt. Amber Baggs said at the time. “Additionally, Miss Frost declined to press charges.”

Following the attack, Frost claimed she was denied medical treatment when deputies further detained her for 12 hours before taking her to a hospital. She also alleged she was repeatedly misgendered by deputies.

San Diego County policy says inmates “should be taken to a facility that coincides with the arrestee’s gender identity” and lists the specific jails for trans and nonbinary people. Frost claimed in her lawsuit the attack would never have happened if the Sheriff’s Department had done its job.

“This case was another tragic, yet preventable, example of such transphobic violence,” Trenton Lamere, a lawyer for Frost, was quoted by the San Diego Tribune. “Had Ms. Frost been promptly booked and released, for example, the incident would not have occurred.

Following a review of a complaint from Frost, the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board (CELB) recommended a more binding mandate on law enforcement regarding housing prisoners according to their identified gender rather than the gender assigned at birth. The Sheriff’s Department rejected the recommendation, stating current policy is adequate and citing the difficulty in enforcing the new policy recommended by CELB.

In a letter from January to CELB, Lt. Edward Greenawald of the Sheriff’s Department’s Division of Inspectional Services, wrote the new policy “would do nothing to redirect other agency arrestees, who account for roughly 75 percent of all bookings, effectively failing to ensure officers take arrestees to a booking facility that aligns with their gender identity.”

While Frost is still dealing with her injuries, her lawyers said she remained hopeful her case can bring acceptance and greater awareness to the problem of violence against transgender.

“Ms. Frost, of course, remains mindful of her many transgender and gender nonconforming siblings who have experienced similar violence, and who have not received any kind of justice,” Lamere said. “Ms. Frost is hopeful, however, that a time will come when all people can live in harmony with one another regardless of their gender expression.”

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