Gender Justice Announces Important Wins for Trans Rights in Settlement with Minnesota Department of Corrections

June 1, 2023

Gabbi Pierce, Communications Manager
[email protected]

Saint Paul, Minn.—

Gender Justice, joined by co-counsel Robins Kaplan LLP, announced today a groundbreaking win for transgender rights in a lawsuit filed on behalf of client Christina Lusk against the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC). In settling this lawsuit, the DOC agreed to make needed changes to its policies regarding treatment of incarcerated transgender people, and to pay a settlement amount of $495,000.

“With this settlement, the Department of Corrections takes an important and necessary step toward fulfilling its responsibilities to the people in its care,” said Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman. “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.”

Christina Lusk is a transgender woman, and is recognized as female by the state of Minnesota. Nonetheless, since being incarcerated in 2018, she has been consistently misgendered by the DOC, was placed in a men’s facility where she faced ongoing harassment, and was denied the gender-affirming health care she had been receiving. In her June 2022 complaint, Lusk asserted that these discriminatory policies and practices violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act as well as the Minnesota Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, bodily autonomy, and freedom from cruel or unusual punishment.

Under the settlement, the DOC will transfer Lusk to the women’s facility in Shakopee and reconnect her with gender-affirming health care and counseling. The DOC further agreed to strengthen and update several of its policies that will protect the basic rights, health and safety of any transgender people incarcerated in Minnesota. Among these changes, the DOC will abide by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) standards of care, contract with a WPATH certified health care provider, ensure its staff are trained on providing appropriate care for transgender people, and honor the name changes of incarcerated transgender people.

“Our resolution to this case was appropriate,” said Lusk. “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.”

“Robins Kaplan is so pleased to have been able to partner with Gender Justice and obtain this result for Ms. Lusk,” said Rebecca Bact of Robins Kaplan LLP. “The settlement not only ensures that she is treated with dignity, but does the same for other trans and gender nonconforming individuals within the Minnesota DOC.”

View the Global Summary Agreement and Release of All Claims here


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