United States Inflicts Cruel And Degrading Treatment On Transgender People In Immigration Detention

The parties remain in litigation in federal district court.

The case arose from reports from transgender people in immigration detention about discriminatory treatment and refusal of medical services after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

This lawsuit seeks information on policies, practices, and standards of care governing treatment of transgender people in immigration detention that will form the basis of human rights reporting on abusive conditions of confinement and additional lawsuits seeking to enjoin abusive practices.

Why is this a key case?

A trans person is murdered every 3 days in the world and some transgender immigrants seek protection from persecution or torture in the United States. But transgender asylum seekers are commonly locked away in U.S. immigration detention, where they report horrifying human rights abuses: sexual assault and harrassment by guards, degrading and humiliating treatment by detention center staff, denials of medical care, and unreasonable use of solitary confinement. Multiple transgender people have even died in U.S. immigration detention.

The government is supposed to adhere to minimum standards of care and guidelines for treatment of trans and nonbinary people locked in immigration detention. This lawsuit seeks documents exposing violations of these standards that will form the basis of human rights reporting and accountability litigation.

How is RFK Human Rights supporting?

RFK Human Rights, co-counseling with the Transgender Law Center and Ballard Spahr LLP, represents the Transgender Law Center in its request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and litigation in federal district court to compel the government’s compliance with FOIA.

Name of the case (as it appears in the respective legal mechanism)

Transgender Law Center v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement., No. 21-cv-2153 (D.D.C. Aug. 12, 2021)

Month/Year of filing

August 2021

Legal mechanism in which the case is being litigated

U.S. Federal District Court, District of the District of Columbia

Rights and legal instruments alleged violated (or found to have been violated)

Freedom of Information Act

Procedural stage



Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Transgender Law Center, Ballard Spahr LLP