Transgender Woman Sues Dallas County for Treatment in County Jail

Dallas County and several employees, including former Sheriff Lupe Valdez, are named as defendants in a federal lawsuit. Valerie Jackson, a transgender woman, claims her civil rights were violated at the Dallas County Jail.

Jackson spoke to reporters at her attorneys' office Wednesday morning. "I just didn't feel human," Jackson said. "I felt like I was just some freak show."

Jackson said she was arrested at Love Field in 2016. She said she was running late for a flight, and forgot to take a gun out of her purse before going through security check. Jackson was taken to the Dallas County Jail.

The lawsuit claims Jackson's civil rights were violated when she was told to expose her genitals to  determine whether she was male or female. The suit says a jail employee asked, "Have you had everything done, even down there," and that another officer said, "If you have a penis you're going with the men. If you have a vagina you're going with the women."

"Being trans has to do with what's between your ears, not between your legs," Jackson said.

The Dallas County Sheriff's Department transgender inmate policy clearly says, "detention personnel WILL NOT conduct a strip search on an individual to determine the gender or sex".

"The written policy has actually been nullified by what they're doing, and that's the problem we have," said Jackson's attorney, James Roberts. 

Jackson said she was put in a cell next to men.

"They were touching themselves and saying things they wanted to do to me," Jackson said. "Calling me names; 'tranny', 'he/she'."

"There's no question she should have been housed with the females," said Jackson's attorney Scott Palmer. "They claim they were trying to protect her, which they did the exact opposite."

A Dallas County Sheriff's Department spokesman told NBC 5, on advice of their attorney, the department can't comment on a pending lawsuit.

A grand jury declined to indict Jackson for the gun charge. She was arrested twice after that for misdemeanor trespassing and interfering with an emergency call. One case was dropped. The other is still pending. Jackson said her jail experience each time was similar.

"It was humiliating, embarrassing, dehumanizing," Jackson said. "I don't want anyone else to go through that experience again."

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