A Minnesota transgender inmate is being moved to a women’s prison and will receive a vaginoplasty as well as $495,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections.
Christina Lusk, 57, will be transferred to the women’s facility in Shakopee next week, which will mark the first time a Minnesota inmate is moved to a different prison based on gender identity, according to local affiliate FOX 9.
As part of the settlement announced last week, the Minnesota DOC agreed to provide Lusk with a vaginoplasty as well as strengthen its policies regarding transgender inmates.
Lusk, who was arrested in 2018 and is serving a sentence until 2024 for a felony drug offense, sued the Minnesota DOC last year in part because it deferred Lusk’s request for a vaginoplasty, or “bottom surgery.”
After beginning cross-sex hormones in 2009, Lusk changed names in 2018 and was conferring with doctors about surgical options before getting arrested.
The inmate had undergone “top surgery” before going to jail, and was “on the verge of scheduling” a vaginoplasty, according to the lawsuit.
Lusk filed a grievance with the DOC after department medical director James Amsterdam reviewed Lusk’s case and determined that Lusk should not be allowed to receive genital surgery while incarcerated, but “could pursue that after release,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Lusk’s behalf by the St. Paul-based advocacy group Gender Justice, alleged that Lusk was sexually abused by the male inmates at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Moose Lake and demanded Lusk be treated as female and moved to a women’s facility.
“Inmates would heckle her, heckle her roommates… call her ‘it,’ that sort of thing,” Gender Justice legal director Jess Braverman said, according to FOX 9. “And then there were staff who would say things to her, such as, ‘You know, you’re a man in a men’s prison. I’m not going to treat you like a woman. I’m not going to use your proper name and pronouns.’”
Lusk praised the settlement in a statement released by Gender Justice, calling it “appropriate.”
“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,” Lusk said.
“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,” Lusk added.
In January, the Minnesota DOC joined 10 other states and the District of Columbia in establishing a policy by which inmates can be transferred to facilities that match their gender identity.