Prison interior. Jail cells, dark background.

A transgender inmate at the Fremont Correctional Facility has filed suit against the warden and three other employees for alleged cruel and unusual punishment and refusal to refer to the inmate by her preferred name and pronouns.

Lacy Lee Burkhart wrote in her complaint to the U.S. District Court for Colorado that she made employees at the facility aware that she had changed her name from David Lee Burkhart. On March 6, 2020, a legal assistant allegedly wrote to Burkhart that she must use her “commitment name” and referred to her using masculine pronouns. Burkhart referred to a Colorado Department of Corrections policy effective November 2019 which noted that “intentional misuse of gender pronouns and titles with transgender or intersex offenders is prohibited. Transgender and intersex offenders will be referred to by their preferred pronoun or as offender and their last name or by last name only.”

The plaintiff is asking the federal court to allow her to use the name “Lacy” on all documentation within the Department of Corrections. “It needs to be further ordered that any other offender who has legally changed their name to be allowed to use the new name as listed per statute,” she wrote.

CDOC responded, pointing to its policy of not offering comment on pending litigation.

Burkhart also alleged that she tried to list her husband and his mother as her contacts for emergencies, but that the warden denied phone privileges to her. “This ‘hardship’ amounts to taking away a privilege without a hearing,” wrote Burkhart. While she acknowledged that her husband is on parole, she claimed that the inability to contact those family members caused night terrors and stress. Burkhart has asked the court to order a revision of the administrative regulations surrounding phone use to allow inmates to contact their spouses regardless of whether they are parolees.

The case is David Lee Burkhart a.k.a. Lacy Lee Burkhart v. Case Manager 1 Florez, et al.

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