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Transgender Illinois inmate feels safer after transfer

The Associated Press
Posted: Feb. 2, 2019 7:00 am Updated: Feb. 2, 2019 9:36 am

LINCOLN, Ill. (AP) ó A transgender inmate who received rare approval from Illinois prison authorities to move from a men's to a women's prison says she feels safe in the new accommodations.

Strawberry Hampton said she no longer worries about being attacked for being a woman, the Chicago Tribune reports .

Hampton, whose legal first name is Deon, was transferred at the end of December to Logan Correctional Center, a women's prison in central Illinois. She's serving a 10-year sentence for burglary.

"At the end of the day, I'm safe here, I feel good," the 27-year-old said, noting that the women there accept her and treat her like a woman.

The relocation comes after a yearlong legal battle. Hampton requested the transfer arguing that she'd be less vulnerable to sexual assault, taunting and beatings. Hampton alleged that she experienced abuse and sexual assault by inmates and staff at four men's facilities in Illinois.

"It was very scary," Hampton said. "It was very mentally and emotionally draining to where you feel like everything around you is just ... you got no help, you got nobody to protect you. The people (who are) supposed to protect are the ones (who are) hurting you."

The American Medical Association in June recommended that policies should allow transgender prisoners be housed based on gender identity because they face risks of violence and sexual assault otherwise.

State corrections officials said they carefully consider the needs of inmates who identify as transgender. Officials said other transgender inmates have been relocated based on their gender identity, but didn't give a specific number.

Hampton still has pending lawsuits against corrections officers at various prisons for allegedly abusing her or failing to protect her.

Hampton's case comes at a time where transgender rights in prisons and jails across the U.S. have been changing. President Donald Trump's administration in May rolled back protections for transgender inmates in federal prisons that were put in place by President Barack Obama.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com