University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Raven v. Polis PC-CO-0034
Docket / Court 2019CV34492 ( State Court )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
The Clearinghouse does not have access to a docket for this case. Information for this summary was gathered from the complaint and the Transgender Law Center.

On November 22, 2019, seven transgender women incarcerated at a ... read more >
The Clearinghouse does not have access to a docket for this case. Information for this summary was gathered from the complaint and the Transgender Law Center.

On November 22, 2019, seven transgender women incarcerated at a Colorado men’s state prisons filed this class action lawsuit against several government defendants including the Governor of Colorado as well as the CDOC. Represented by both private counsel from a civil rights law firm and the Transgender Law Center, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief in addition to compensatory damages under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and the Colorado Constitution. According to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, CDOC must provide transgender women the same rights and privileges accorded to other people in state custody. The plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated the Colorado Constitution by denying equal treatment because of the plaintiffs’ sex and imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

This suit grew out of a July 2019 settlement between a transgender inmate the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) ( Saunders-Velez v. Colorado Department of Corrections ). In that case, a transgender woman alleged she was raped and abused at a men’s prison. Under the settlement she received $170,000 and was able to serve her sentence in the men’s prison of her choosing.

The complaint alleged that the plaintiffs and a class of at least 160 other transgender women incarcerated in CDOC men’s prisons have been discriminated against solely based on their status as transgender women. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that defendants and CDOC officers denied medical treatment to plaintiffs with gender dysphoria, engaged in sexual assault, and denied numerous requests for transfer to a women’s prison.

Further, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants routinely fail to report and investigate reports of sexual assault made by transgender women in men’s prisons. While CDOC implemented new policies providing that transgender women be referred to by proper pronouns, the plaintiffs additionally alleged that the defendants have failed to provide proper training to staff. The complaint stated that many workers at CDOC facilities refer to transgender women as “it” or “thing.”

The treatment described in the complaint caused multiple plaintiffs to engage in self harm and to be isolated in solitary confinement. Many of these women also suffered from depression as a result of trauma and gender dysphoria. The complaint stated that being placed in solitary confinement increases depression and often leads to further self-harm. While these women require proper mental health care, the plaintiffs stated that CDOC mental health providers do not have the required expertise and have distributed anti-transgender pamphlets.

As we do not have access to the docket, limited information about the case is available. Presumably, the case is ongoing as of February 2020.

Richa Bijlani - 02/13/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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disability, unspecified
Gender identity
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Failure to train
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Director of Prisons
CDOC Chief Medical Officer
Chief of the Gender Dysphoria Committee and Chief of Psychiatry
Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections
former CDOC Chief Medical Officer
former Chief of Psychiatry
Governor of Colorado
Plaintiff Description Seven transgender women who are inmates at Colorado men's state prisons, on behalf of more than 160 other similarly situated women
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 11/22/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
State Trial Court
Class Action Complaint
PC-CO-0034-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Egyes, Lynly S. (California) show/hide docs
Freeman, Jessica (Colorado) show/hide docs
Greisen, Paula Dee (Colorado) show/hide docs
Meerkamper, Shawn Thomas (California) show/hide docs

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