Lambda Legal this week announced the resolution of a discrimination complaint against the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Youth Study Center (YSC) on behalf of an 18-year-old trans woman who while in a state youth detention facility was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by staff and residents.
In February 2008, a Family Court Judge ordered DHS to provide the teenager in question, known only as L.P., with all necessary treatment for her medically diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder (GID), and that she be treated in accordance with her female gender identity while under the facility’s care.
However, YSC staff and administrators went on to deny L.P. access to clothing and grooming options that matched her gender identity and in fact actively reprimanded her for displaying behaviors they perceived as feminine.
Furthermore, Lambda Legal reports that when L. P. asked to be called by her female name she was assailed by YSC staff, one of whom said: “You ain’t no f***ing female, you are a dude… Till you get your dick cut off, I’m not going to call you [by your female name].”
Staff also neglected to reprimand other residents when they directed slurs toward L.P. such as ”You’re a faggot,” “Wanna-be-girl,” “You are not a girl,” and “You will never be a girl.” On several occasions, the verbal harassment reportedly escalated to physical attacks.
Lambda Legal together with the state’s human rights division filed a complaint in October 2009 that the YSC, operated by the DHS, violated Philadelphia’s fair practices ordinance.
A settlement has now been reached that Lambda Legal describes as “agreeable to all parties.”
The settlement included revisions to YSC policies addressing non-discriminatory treatment of LGBT youth to include specific protections for transgender youth. Now transgender youth will be able to live in a single room on the unit that corresponds to their gender identity and receive hormone therapy. Also, while living in the facility, transgender youth will be called by their preferred name and the pronoun that reflects the youth’s gender identity, even if the youth’s name has not been legally changed. YSC will also provide clothing and grooming options to transgender and gender non-conforming youth throughout their stay at the facility.
DHS will also provide training for all YSC agents, providers and staff on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and respectful treatment of LGBT youth. According to the settlement, the City of Philadelphia will also pay an undisclosed amount to L.P.
L.P. is quoted as saying, ”I am happy that the case is settled. I hope that these changes will ensure that no other young transgender person experiences the physical and emotional abuse that I experienced at the Youth Study Center.”
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