Transgender Woman Wins $160,000 After Misgendering, Maltreatment In New York Jail

After coming to an agreement on Thursday, Brooke County, New York, will be paying a monumental $160,000 settlement to a 25-year-old transgender woman who claims he was made to endure mistreatment and discrimination while incarcerated in the county jail in 2021.

The settlement follows his lawsuit filed in 2022, sparking changes in the treatment of transgender inmates at Brooke County jail.

Makyyla Holland, who identifies as a transgender woman, was held in jail as he faced charges of criminal contempt and assault charges. His experience in custody was, however, reportedly worsened by mistreatment, as she said she was taken to an all-male correctional facility. He also complained about being misgendered.

Holland was also allegedly subjected to violence as he claimed that he suffered physical assault during the intake process, leading to a broken tooth and painful head injury. He also complained that he was subjected to a strip search by male officers, despite claiming to be a woman.

The officers, he further said, forced him to remove a wig that was glued to his scalp and made him remove his acrylic nails.

In addition to all of these, Holland also claimed in his lawsuit filed last year that he was denied access to commissary items and medications during his incarceration at the jail.

Speaking through the New York Civil Liberties Union, which supported him through the case, Holland said, “I was harassed, mocked, misgendered and worse: jail staff strip-searched me, beat me up, placed me in the male section of the jail and withheld my hormones for a period of time, forcing me to go into agonizing withdrawal.”

In response to the settlement, the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote, “No one should ever have to go through what Makyyla went through at the Broome County Jail. Now with this settlement, establishing one of the strongest nationwide policies to protect the rights of trans people in custody, hopefully no one ever will.”

With the settlement order came a wave of change as the Broome County Sheriff’s Office has embraced sweeping reforms to redefine how transgender inmates are treated while in their custody. Aside from requiring inmates to be housed with the gender they claim to be rather than their biological gender, staff are also bound by the policy to address each inmate according to their gender identity.