A Trans Woman Was Jailed With Men and ‘Viciously’ Beaten, Lawsuit Says

“No reasonable deputy would have put Ms. Frost in a minimally monitored cell with three men. She was forced into the cell anyway.”
November 15, 2021, 4:51pm
An empty prison cell
(Getty Images) 

A trans woman was placed in a San Diego jail cell with three men—and one of them assaulted her so “viciously” that he broke her jaw, forcing her to wear dentures, a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges.

The woman, Kristina Frost, was booked into the San Diego Central Jail in November 2020, according to a lawsuit Frost filed in federal district court. Frost made it clear upfront that she’s a trans woman: Not only did she tell jail staff about her identity, but government records list her gender as female. 

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Still, her lawsuit alleges, staffers repeatedly misgendered her. And then they ended up putting her in a cell with three men. 

“It was clear Ms. Frost did not want to go into the cell, and she was confused as to why she was being moved into the cell,” alleges the lawsuit, which is asking for unspecified damages. “No reasonable deputy would have put Ms. Frost in a minimally monitored cell with three men. She was forced into the cell anyway.”

At some point, Frost fell asleep. But after midnight, one of the men allegedly started punching her in the head.

“Deputies observed this assault, yet none of them immediately intervened,” the lawsuit alleges. “Ms. Frost saw one or more deputies pausing outside the cell before entering to intervene. Deputies eventually removed the assailant from the cell and put him alone in another holding cell.”

Frost then had to wait more than 12 hours to be released and get medical care, according to the lawsuit. (It’s unclear why Frost was in custody.) During that entire time, she was in “excruciating pain” and couldn’t eat food or drink water.

Frost was ultimately diagnosed with two jaw fractures, per the lawsuit. She’s had two separate operations to treat the fractures, had her jaw wired shut, and now wears dentures.

In February 2021, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department issued a bulletin making it clear that arrested people should be taken to facilities that match their gender identity. The sheriff’s department didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment. A spokesperson for San Diego County also didn’t immediately reply.

A 2020 investigation by NBC News found that nearly all transgender prisoners are put in custody facilities that match their sex at birth, rather than their gender identity. Out of 4,890 trans prisoners in state prisons across 45 states and Washington, D.C., NBC News was able to find only 15 cases where people were housed according to their lived identity.