Settlement Reached in Abused Trans Teen Case


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.”

From the Lambda Legal press release:

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.”

Related Reading:

Argentina’s Trans Rights Campaign (VIDEO)

Trans Woman Settles DMV Privacy Suit

D.C. Mayor Calls for Trans Job Training Program

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Kaitlyn Tikkun.


marc horton
marc horton5 years ago

so sorry she had to go through that,am glad to hear that they have all reached an agreement and moved on to embrace and educate

Shannon R.
Shannon R6 years ago

I wonder if LP is reading this, it may do her good to see all the support and people in her favor. It might not be all that, but it's better than nothing.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

Poor girl -- as if she didn't have enough emotional distress just with coming to terms with her gender identity. I'm glad L.P. won her case, but she went through hell, to get there. The people who work in these institutions need special education to understand the differences b/w sex and gender, and sensitivity training.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

There must be some way to get over the homophobia and treat one another with dignity and respect...

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Of course people are intolerant of anyone who is not like them. This has always been true. About the only exception is those few who grow up in some sort of international community such that they are surrounded by an extremely wide variety of odd people most of their childhoods. One other exception is people who have been to hell and back in a situation where the divisions are along lines very different than what they grew up with. My father taught microbiology at New York University medical school, which meant I grew up in such an international community. And it my late teens my aunt railroaded me into a mental hospital and I finally wound up in a situation of reading out loud to a black woman who was not blind but illiterate through no fault of her own and in better shape than most of the other residents of the ward. I guess black women get put away for less than white women.

Mark Alan Dellavecchia

The Correctional Environment brings together some of the worst aspects of any given society - both as inmates and staff. Housing Assignment in this case is not exactly easy or "by the book." One of the chief concerns is the matter of sexual relations between inmates. Since there is no way to honestly determine what is consensual sex vs prostitution vs rape, ALL sexual relations must be prohibited. Pre-Op transgender persons pose special problems: can you house a "girl" with a functional penis with other biological girls? Or should "she" be housed with the hormonally charged boys - whose penises are also highly functional? It does not matter whether the individual is M-F or F-M, nor does this even touch on the orientation of the individual: gay/lesbian, bi, or str8. You very rapidly go from 2 genders to 4 identities to 16 orientations - that's a whole lot of segregated housing: all of which must be "equal" in every aspect to avoid further litigation. Oh, and cells are a rarity - most are housed in shared accommodations: 2 - 100 per unit. The jobs are high stress and low pay with generally a low entry educational level.

Good Luck to L.P. and the "City of Brotherly Love."

Mark Alan Dellavecchia

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”

Mystical V., you asked, "What is happening to us a a country?"

The simple answer is: We are giving in to fear.

The country is going through a very difficult (financial) time. Answers that worked before, are not working now - the game has changed: no-one really knows what to do.

Needed social change is occurring, but all change is unsettling.

In fear, we are looking to lash out at scapegoats, to have someone to blame.

Sadly, this has happened before in other places at other times. We never really seem to learn from the past.

Mystical Vixen
Mystical Vixen6 years ago

Just another way we as a Nation show our intolerance for anyone who is different than us. From this article, to the legalized racial profiling in Indiana and Arizona, we as a country should be ashamed and embarrassed!

Mystical Vixen
Mystical Vixen6 years ago

What is happening to us a a country? We are targeting anyone different than us. Don't say we don't do it. The LBGT (Forgive me if I didn't letter that correctly) is targeted at random, and some states are going back to legal racial profiling (Arizona, Indiana). Are we as a country so hate filled and intolerant that we will destroy other human beings that we deem different or beneath us? Real shame and an embarrassment to us all!

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.