Christina Lusk, a 57-year-old trans-identified male, will be moved from Moose Lake prison to Shakopee, a female-only prison, after reaching a settlement with the Minnesota Department of Corrections on Thursday. Lusk, who attempted to transition from male to female in 2008, is serving a prison sentence for a 2018 felony drug possession conviction, according to KSTP.
Lusk sued the Minnesota Department of Corrections in 2022 on grounds of violating his constitutional rights, demanding to be housed in prison based on gender identity. The DOC reached a settlement with Lusk on Thursday which included a $495,000 payout, with $250,000 going towards legal fees, the outlet reports.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) will now undergo new policy changes as a result of the settlement that includes housing inmates based on their gender identity, providing necessary medical care such as hormone therapy, and prohibiting harassment or discrimination.
"Our resolution to this case was appropriate,” Lusk said in a statement. “Everybody needs to come together in unity, and embrace positive change. I believe we have made a big step toward allowing people to express who they truly are, and bring some sort of peace and happiness to their lives. This journey has brought extreme challenges, and I have endured so much. My hope is that nobody has to go through the same set of circumstances. I relied on my faith, and I never gave up hope. I can truly say that I am a strong, proud, transgender woman, and my name is Christina Lusk.”
Jess Braverman, Director of Gender Justice Legal, who represented Lusk in this case, was thrilled about the outcome and told NPR that trans-identified inmates will now get to have the "legal protections they deserve."
"With this settlement, the Department of Corrections takes an important and necessary step toward fulfilling its responsibilities to the people in its care," Braverman said. "Thanks to Christina Lusk's willingness to speak out, transgender people in custody will now have expanded access to the housing and health care they need, and the legal protections they deserve."
Lusk will be transferred to the state's sole women's-only prison next week.
DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell released a statement following the court hearing and said, "The DOC is constitutionally obligated to provide medically necessary care for incarcerated people, which includes treatment for gender dysphoria."
Schnell added, "Based on the facts of this specific case, the incarcerated person will now have access to the medical care she needs, she deserves, and we have a legal obligation to provide."
The settlement makes Minnesota the 11th US state to house trans-identified inmates based on their reported gender identity.
Critics say that the move raises safety concerns after reports over the last few years revealed that trans-identified male inmates housed in women's prisons have engaged in repeated sexual violence and physical abuse against female prisoners.
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