Elton John, Michael Stipe Team Up for Transgender Rights

They call for better treatment for transgender inmates
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2015 9:13 AM CDT
In this Sept. 24, 2008, file photo, Michael Stipe, frontman of the rock band REM, performs onstage at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland.   (AP Photo/Keystone/Steffen Schmidt)
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(Newser) – On Friday, the DoJ backed Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman housed in a male prison, by deeming it "cruel and unusual punishment" for Georgia to deny hormone therapy for gender dysphoria. Now she has more high-profile supporters: Elton John and Michael Stipe have put out a joint statement applauding the DoJ's move, but noting that it's still not enough, the Guardian reports. "We must do more to end the culture of violence and discrimination surrounding gender identity and expression," the statement reads. "We urge the state of Georgia to embrace desperately needed changes to their correctional system."

Safety is also an issue for women like Diamond, who says she has been raped at least seven times during the three years she's been behind bars for non-violent offenses. "Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, yet they continue to face horrific injustices," the statement continues, according to Rolling Stone. It also references Zahara Green, another inmate at a Georgia men's prison who says she was raped, then moved into the same cell as the man who raped her. "The experiences of Ashley Diamond and Zahara Green cast a harsh light on the brutality, torture, and horrible conditions inside Georgia prisons today," Stipe and John say. (Read more Elton John stories.)

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