La. Lawsuit Alleges Prison Guards Ordered Transgender Visitor to Strip

Photo via Flickr / @msppmoore

A New Orleans transgender woman is filing a lawsuit after Louisiana prison officers ordered her to strip naked before visiting her incarcerated brother.

China Nelson was allegedly told to reveal her genitals in order to visit her brother at the Louisiana State Penitentiary last year, according to NBC News. Nelson is suing the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections for allegedly violating fourth amendment rights to unlawful search and seizure.

“When an unknown guard stated that she saw ‘something’ in Ms. Nelson’s pants, Ms. Nelson acknowledged that she was born a male as indicated on her driver’s license in an effort to explain the ‘something’ the guard stated she saw,” the suit states.

After officers asked to see her genitalia, Nelson offered to stay in the car as an alternative while her mother and brother went in. Officers would not permit Nelson to leave, insisting on “shaking down” her car and making her “reveal her genitalia,” according to the suit.

Nelson let them search the car, but not her body. As a result, officials canceled the entire visit.

A deputy warden from the complex wrote a letter to Nelson that month stating that she was banned from visiting for six months, according to NBC News. The letter states that there was an “unknown object” found during the screening and she refused to be searched before they could explain.

“Security advised you of the shakedown policy and the strip search would be based on your driver’s license,” the deputy warden wrote.

According to Nelson’s lawyer Galen Hair, Nelson was on the approved screening list for the past 14 years before the September 2017 incident.

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