Fior Pichardo de Veloz flew in to Miami from the Dominican Republic in 2013 to witness the birth of her grandchild. Instead, she found herself arrested on a drug charge she didn't realize was outstanding—and locked up for almost 10 hours with male inmates after being mistakenly classified as a male herself. Her lawsuit over the matter was recently allowed to proceed, and the Miami Herald reports on the case. The arresting officer listed Pichardo as female, she was initially processed at the first correctional facility as female, and a female officer performed a strip search of her private parts for contraband. She was then taken to the medical unit for a routine checkup, and that's when things started to go wrong. Nurse Fatu Kamara Harris asked a corrections officer whether Pichardo was a man, because the nurse saw in Pichardo's file that she was taking hormone pills.
Though such pills are often prescribed for menopause, Harris said male inmates sometimes took them for breast enhancement. Harris had Dr. Fredesvindo Rodriguez-Garcia examine Pichardo, but he never had her undress or did a physical exam; according to Pichardo's lawsuit, he never even asked her if she was female or why she was taking hormone pills, yet ultimately decided to reclassify her as male. Jail officers protested; Harris wasn't in the room but told officers the exam had revealed male parts. Thus, Pichardo found herself relocated to a male-only facility, where she says she was leered at by about 40 men in her large holding cell and was so scared to use the bathroom that she soiled herself. A federal judge initially threw out her lawsuit, but a federal appeals court reinstated it last month. Click for the full story. (Read more lawsuit stories.)