Minnesota DOC Affirms Gender Identity Rights In Lawsuit Settlement

In a settlement that has sparked controversy, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) will be paying a substantial amount of nearly $500,000 to an inmate named Craig Lusk, who identifies as transgender and changed his name to Christina in 2018. Lusk will also undergo a sex-change surgery known as vaginoplasty with the support of the corrections department.

Aside from the payout and provision of sex-change surgery, Lusk will be transferred to a women’s prison, marking an unprecedented move in the state. This is regardless of the fact that his prison term ends in May 2024.

To provide some context, Lusk’s prison term stems from an arrest back in 2018 on drug charges. Law enforcement had discovered a large quantity of cocaine and methamphetamine on him, indicating involvement in drug distribution activities. In total, police found 697 grams of meth in his bedroom along with a large amount of baggies, two digital scales and $5,166 in cash, as reported by Reduxx.

Having previously been convicted of first-degree robbery, the 57-year-old pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of a controlled substance, resulting in a prison sentence of 98 months.

Initially, the Minnesota Department of Corrections assigned him to Moose Lake, a facility designated for male inmates. However, he filed a lawsuit in June 2022 in Ramsey County District Court, alleging discrimination based on his transgender identity.

Lusk contended that the department violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the state’s constitution by postponing their sex-change surgery until their scheduled release in 2024. Additionally, Lusk claimed that the DOC referred to him using incorrect pronouns and put him in danger by housing him with male inmates.

The state’s settlement with Lusk also includes a commitment to house individuals who identify as transgender according to their self-identified gender in the future.

While Lusk’s case would mark the first implementation, it is worth noting that the Minnesota DOC adopted its new transgender policy, allowing the housing of inmates with individuals of the opposite sex, in January. This aligns the state with 11 other states and the District of Columbia which have similar policies.