Trans woman says Maryland imprisoned her with cis man who sexually assaulted her

Black trans woman Chelsea Gilliam is suing the state of Maryland for allegedly locking her up for months with cisgender males, one of whom assaulted and raped her. Gilliam said that authorities not only locked her up in isolation but also withheld care she desperately needed. Gilliam was first taken into custody by the police at year’s end 2021 on assault charges. After that, she was split up between the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic, and Classification Center and the Baltimore City Correctional Center.


Gilliam claimed at this time that she had never been convicted of a crime. She said that the staff at the first jail she mentioned often misgendered her and housed her in a cell with cis guys despite the fact that this was against prison protocol. She said that one male convict sexually attacked her and that she was forced to take showers with them.

She was allowed to begin taking showers and participating in leisure activities alone after the alleged attack. She claimed that many police, however, refused to provide her these rights.

The second jail she was transferred to was notorious for its use of “administrative segregation,” or solitary incarceration. She was only allowed five hours per week of visitation time. U.N. experts agree that being locked up alone for more than 15 days constitutes “psychological torture.”


Gilliam claims that she was subjected to cruel and unusual treatment in jail, which is prohibited by the 14th Amendment. In addition, the jail broke the law under the Americans with Disabilities Act by not allowing her to get medical hormone therapy for her gender dysphoria. A lack of hormone medication “had immediate physical and mental effects,” her complaint claimed.

The toughest part was getting up in the morning and having to perform the routine tasks required of a man’s physique, which took a long. That, right there, was the absolute worst part. “I need to get to a mirror, I need to see what’s going on,” Gilliam. “There were times when I would go to bed and not want to wake up.”

Gilliam claims she has learned her lesson and is now uncomfortable around groups of more than five individuals. She is suing the jails for damages and an injunction to stop their transphobic policies. To make sure that anything like what happened to her doesn’t happen again, she also wants the state correctional department to adopt new rules, processes, and training.

“I don’t want what happened to me to happen to any other trans woman in the state of Maryland,” Gilliam said during a news conference on Wednesday. To paraphrase, “I want the state of Maryland to be held accountable for what happened and what occurred and for the things that they let go on, day after day.”