A woman is suing employees within the Miami-Dade County Corrections Department after she was misgendered after an arrest and forcefully placed in an all-male jail, where she was humiliated and afraid.
Fior Pichardo de Veloz, now 55, was visiting family in Miami, Fla., for the birth of her grandchildren back in 2013 when she was taken into custody on an old drug charge that she didn’t know was outstanding. According to the Miami Herald, Pichardo was listed as a female by the arresting officer before being properly booked and processed into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center (TGK) as a woman following a strip search. It wasn’t until she was sent to the medical unit because of her history of high blood pressure that Pichardo’s gender was questioned.
The nurse, Fatu Kamara Harris, noted that Pichardo filed that she was taking hormone pills and asked if the inmate was in fact a man. Pichardo replied no, but she was still led to facility doctor Fredesvindo Rodriguez-Garcia, MD.
According to Judge Frank Hull’s appeals court opinion, released on Nov. 21, Rodriquez-Garcia never directly asked Pichardo about her gender or why she was taking hormone pills, nor did he do a physical examination. Still, he decided to reclassify the inmate as a male. Harris subsequently marked Pichardo’s file, “Transgender, male parts, female tendencies,” leading to Pichardo’s transfer into the all-male Metro West Detention Center.
“Every reasonable prison officer and medical personnel would have known that wrongfully misclassifying a biological female as a male inmate and placing that female in the male population of a detention facility was unlawful,” Hall wrote about the nurse’s decision to allegedly ignore officers who questioned whether Harris had performed a physical examination.
Ultimately, Pichardo spent 10 hours in a cell with about 40 men. Jailers didn’t notice the mistake until the inmate’s family showed up at TGK and demanded to know why she had been booked into an all-male facility. Nurses immediately recognized the mistake and transferred her back to TGK.
Pichardo later sued the county and jail for being exposed to “cruel and unusual punishment.” A federal judge threw out the lawsuit because jail staffers were allegedly protected from a trial for negligence. But a federal appeals court reinstated the lawsuit this month against the jail doctor and nurse who “stubbornly refused” to confirm the inmate’s gender.
Representatives of Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center told Yahoo Lifestyle that they could not comment on the incident.