Who is Chelsea Gilliam? Transgender woman sues over mistreatment while in custody


A transgender woman named Chelsea Gilliam is suing the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections for alleged mistreatment during her incarceration in 2021.

Gilliam claims that the department refused to accept her legally changed the name and gender identity, and she was held in an all-male dormitory at the Baltimore City Correctional Center for three months before her trial.

During that time, she was also denied hormone treatment and allegedly harassed by staff, and sexually assaulted by another inmate. Despite reporting the incident, the department did not take any action.


Who is Chelsea Gilliam?

Chelsea Gilliam suffered a great deal of anxiety and distress due to the department’s actions.

Her lawyers are challenging the department’s actions as cruel and unusual under the 14th Amendment and alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The lawyers cite a past court case, Williams v. Kincaid, which affirms gender dysphoria as a protected disability under the ADA.

The department has policies and procedures in place that prohibit discrimination against gender dysphoria and transgender inmates.

These guidelines allow for specific medical care such as hormone therapy, mental health treatment, and specialty appointments.

They also include search exception cards, the availability of commissary items based on an inmate’s identified gender, and the ability to pursue legal name changes.

Senator Jill Carter introduced the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act in the General Assembly, which would have required state corrections to provide gender-appropriate housing and a new search process. However, it failed to pass and stalled in committee.

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