A trans ‘woman’ in New York has been paid a $160,000 settlement after he was ‘misgendered’ by staff at all-male jail and ordered to remove his acrylic nails without the correct equipment.
Makyyla Holland, a 25-year-old black transgender woman, accused correctional officers at the Broome County Jail of abuse and discrimination after being arrested on criminal contempt and assault charges.
He was held in an all-male jail during two stints totaling six weeks in 2021, and claims he was physically attacked during the intake process on January 22, suffering a broken tooth and painful lump on his head.
Holland says he was assigned to the men’s unit and put into an isolated cell with glass walls. He was denied access to a shower throughout his time which ended February 5, 2021, according to court documents.
Between June 1 and July 2, 2021, he says he was stripped searched by male officers, made to peel off his acrylic nails without the proper tools and ordered to remove his wig, which was glued to his head.
Despite disclosing his transgender status multiple times, he says he was placed within men’s housing units and misgendered – referred to as a man.
He alleged he was denied hormone replacement therapy medications for four weeks and wasn’t given his prescribed testosterone blockers or antidepressants.
‘I was harassed, mocked, misgendered and worse: jail staff strip-searched me, beat me up, placed me in the male section of the jail and withheld my hormones for a period of time, forcing me to go into agonizing withdrawal,’ said Holland via the New York Civil Liberties Union.
‘I just felt I was a laughing stock there I was being discriminated because of me being a trans woman. That put me at a high risk of harassment. I had to adapt to what the jail put me through.’
He felt like his life didn’t matter when he was denied his medication.
Holland filed a lawsuit in 2021, claiming he was ‘routinely harassed and misgendered’, and that pleas ‘for help and for protection from the the threats and sexual victimization to which they had exposed him’ were ignored.
Following the landmark settlement, which included a payment of $160,000 as well as new LGBTI guidelines for the facility, Holland said he hopes change will come from his experience.
Transgender people in Broome County Jail will now be able to receive transgender ‘health care’, be housed consistent with their gender identity and be free from harassment and discrimination. Clothing and toiletry items will be consistent with a person’s gender identity and access will be granted to gender-affirming items such as wigs.
‘No one should ever have to go through what I went through at the Broome County Jail and I am so grateful that with this new policy, hopefully, no one else ever will,’ Holland said.
‘This policy and policies like it can impact a lot of my community and I will continue to fight to ensure that no other trans person in New York or anywhere has to endure what I did.’
He said would like to see the guidelines picked up in states around the country so he can rest assured no one has a similar experience.
‘With this policy, I want my trans siblings to know that we have rights. You should feel safe in any housing situation you are in. No one should take your medication.
‘You should be able to live out to your truth and stay true to who you are. If I had a world, I would just want everybody on my world to just know that they mean something.’
Broome County Sheriff Fred Akshar said he is pleased to introduce new expectations for the treatment of LGBTI people.
‘I’m pleased we were able to amicably reach a resolution that establishes clear LGBTI Guidelines, which were previously nonexistent, to address the rights of LGBTI inmates while maintaining the safety and security of individuals both housed and working at the Broome County Correctional Facility,’ he said.
‘It’s another important step forward in pragmatically and safely modernizing policies to meet the needs of those we serve and protect as we work to build a better, safer community for everyone in Broome County.’