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A transgender woman in Texas filed a federal lawsuit alleging that jail officials repeatedly violated her constitutional rights when she was forced to show her genitals, placed in a holding area with men and then ordered to shower with male inmates.
Valerie Jackson, 32, filed the lawsuit Friday in Northern District of Texas court claiming that the incidents happened on three different occasions in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Jackson said during a November 2016 arrest for going through airport security with a gun she was taken to Dallas County jail and given a wristband that listed her gender as female. She was then taken to an enclosed area by an officer and told to show her bare breasts, which she did.
Jackson said she was then seen by a male nurse at the jail who began to ask her medical questions, including the date of her last menstrual cycle. The suit claims that Jackson informed the nurse that she was transgender and was told to sit with the other female inmates.
Jackson said as she was waiting, an officer approached and asked her if she had a sex change and if she had "everything done even down there," the suit alleges.
Jackson said she falsely told the officer that she did undergo a sex change because she wanted the "unnecessary humiliating harassment" to end. According to the lawsuit, Jackson was then ordered by several officers and Dallas County jail officer Lizyamma Samuel, to pull down her pants and underwear.
Jackson said she was told that the officers needed to know if she had a sex change so they knew whether her to put her with the men or women.
"We need to see if you have a penis or a vagina," Jackson was told, according to the suit. "We have to protect you. We can't put you with men if you have a vagina."
Ultimately, officers decided Jackson should be placed in the men's holding area, where she said she endured harassment by the male inmates.
In that case, a grand jury decided not to indict Jackson, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Jackson said she received similar treatment during arrests in April 2017 and June 2018. Those arrests stemmed from trespassing and interfering with an emergency call, the Dallas Morning News reports. Both of those cases are still pending.
Jackson said during both of those incidents she was grouped with male inmates and forced to shower with male prisoners as they allegedly masturbated in front of her.
The lawsuit, filed against more than 20 Dallas County officials, including Officer Samuel and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, argues that Jackson's civil rights were violated when officers broke the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which prohibits jails from searching or physically examining inmates who identify as intersex or transgender “for the sole purpose of determining the inmate’s genital status.”
Dallas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Raul Reyna said in a statement they could not comment on Jackson's lawsuit because it is a litigation matter.