WASHINGTON — Today, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied a preliminary injunction and class certification in Hinton v. District of Columbia, a case brought on behalf of Sunday Hinton, a trans woman who was housed in the men’s unit of the D.C. Jail for more than two weeks earlier this year. However, the court rejected the District of Columbia’s argument that the case should be dismissed and indicated Ms. Hinton could retry for class certification after further development.
The lawsuit, brought this May by the ACLU of the District of Columbia and Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), originally challenged the District of Columbia Department of Corrections’ (DOC’s) policy of housing trans residents according to their anatomy instead of their gender identity. In response to this lawsuit, DOC moved Ms. Hinton to a women’s unit and changed its anatomy policy, but instituted a new requirement that trans residents be placed in extremely restrictive, solitary conditions when they enter DOC custody.
Today’s ruling addressed Ms. Hinton’s request to represent a class of current and future trans residents at the D.C. Jail and to enjoin both DOC policies while the case proceeds. The court ruled that because Ms. Hinton is no longer in custody and DOC changed its original policy, the court could not be sure there were enough people in the proposed class to certify it as a class action, and Ms. Hinton does not need relief for herself now. However, the court indicated that the challenge to the new rule is still live and that if more trans residents are identified as the case proceeds, class certification could be appropriate.
“The court unfortunately did not grant immediate relief, but because today’s decision was procedural and did not rule on the validity of DOC’s policies, the case will continue,” said Scott Michelman, Legal Director, ACLU-DC, and lead counsel for the plaintiff. “DOC’s discriminatory treatment of trans people at the D.C. Jail violates both D.C. civil rights law and the Constitution, and we will continue to fight for trans rights.”
“I’m disappointed with today’s result, but the battle isn’t over,” said plaintiff Sunday Hinton. “I’m in this for the long haul and I’m going to keep fighting because all trans people at the jail should be treated with dignity.”
The ACLU-DC and PDS ask that any advocates or family members aware of trans residents being held in protective custody at the D.C. Jail or housed based upon their anatomy and not their gender identity please contact the ACLU-DC's intake department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about this case, go to: https://www.acludc.org/en/cases/hinton-v-district-columbia-challenging-department-corrections-policy-discriminatorily-housing