Trans prisoner sues state, wants to get ‘bottom surgery’ in prison

A transgender Minnesota prisoner is not allowed to get "bottom surgery" in jail, prompting a lawsuit that alleges "cruel and unusual punishment."

Christiana Lusk/DOC

An activist law firm is helping a transgender Minnesota inmate sue the Department of Corrections partly because authorities aren’t letting the prisoner pursue “gender-affirming” genital surgery.

Christina Lusk is the name of a male-to-female transgender person who is incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Moose Lake, serving time for a drug offense until early 2024. Lusk is suing the DOC with help from the law center Gender Justice, seeking financial compensation and other objectives. Lusk is upset about being housed in a male prison, suffering harassment from male prisoners, and being prevented from pursuing further transgender operations.

Lusk already received “top surgery” prior to being jailed, gaining artificial breasts. Lusk has also consumed “feminizing hormone treatments” designed to “produce breast growth, reduce muscle mass, and affect patterns of fat distribution and hair growth,” per the lawsuit.

Prior to incarceration, Lusk was reportedly “on the verge of scheduling” genital surgery to construct an artificial vagina. Lusk’s lawyers say their client’s situation is a human rights abuse.

DOC Medical Director James Amsterdam reviewed Lusk’s case, determining that the inmate will not be allowed to receive genital surgery now but “could pursue that after release,” per the lawsuit.

Lusk, however, says there’s no time to waste and “filed a grievance with the DOC seeking vaginoplasty” in 2019.

“I have been diagnosed with severe Gender Dysphoria. I have attempted suicide four times due to my severe distress caused by my GD as well as self mutilation. My mental capacity is under control, and I am able to make good decisions as far as surgery,” the complaint states.

Authorities responded, stating that “the DOC does not do cosmetic surgery” and that Lusk’s gender dysphoria does not qualify as “severe.” The DOC also “misgenders” Lusk, per the Gender Justice lawsuit, since the inmate’s psychiatrists use male pronouns when writing reports on Lusk’s condition. The DOC also lists Lusk’s male name on other paperwork.

Gender Justice says this misgendering constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment,” as does the DOC’s provision requiring Lusk to wear male undergarments.

As a result of these conditions, Gender Justice’s lawyers say Lusk “has suffered, and continues to suffer, emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, loss of reputation, has incurred attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses, and has suffered other serious damages.” To remedy these damages, the suit seeks a minimum of $50,000, a transfer to a female prison and a “permanent mandatory injunction” that forces courts and DOC staff to use only female pronouns in reference to Lusk.

The overwhelming majority of trans people across America are housed in accordance with their biological sex.


Kyle Hooten

Kyle Hooten is Managing Editor of Alpha News. His coverage of Minneapolis has been featured on television shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight and in print media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.