A groundbreaking win in Lusk v. Department of Corrections

Gender Justice, joined by co-counsel Robins Kaplan LLP, announced 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.

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 transferred Lusk to the women’s facility in Shakopee and provided 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.