Ashley Diamond

Ashley Diamond began living as a woman when she was 17 years old. (Contributed photo)

Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman from Rome, was released from Augusta State Medical Prison on Monday, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I’m overjoyed to be with my family again and out of harm’s way,” Diamond said in a statement.

Diamond, who was serving an 11-year sentence on theft charges, filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections contending she was threatened in prison and sexually assaulted eight times.

She and SPLC attorney Chinyere Ezie said the lawsuit contending she was denied a safe environment and medically necessary gender dysphoria treatment will continue.

“Ashley has endured more than three years of systematic abuse … Nor is her plight isolated. We will continue to advocate for an end to prison practices that unfairly punish and inflict pain on transgender inmates,” Ezie said.

Gender dysphoria is a disconnect some people experience between their birth sex and gender identity.

Diamond had reportedly been receiving hormone treatments for 17 years before her probation was revoked in 2012. Her case has drawn attention to the plight of transgender inmates.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement in April saying the state’s policy of prohibiting hormone treatments for inmates was unconstitutional. The Georgia DOC announced a policy change, but Diamond said the dosage she received was inadequate.

Her release comes just five days after the SPLC filed additional documents supporting her February lawsuit, including sworn statements from other transgender inmates saying the Georgia DOC continues to systematically deny appropriate care to transgender inmates.

Diamond said in the new filing that her “gender dysphoria symptoms, suicidality, and impulses to self-harm have worsened. I am locked down in a solitary cell for 24 hours a day, without access to light, exercise, or running water. Twenty-four hours a day I battle a debilitating and agonizing desire to end my life, because being forced to change my gender and live as male makes me feel like I am already dead.”

Prison officials put her in solitary confinement on Aug. 4 for her protection.

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