SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A state correctional officer has filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Meghan Frederick says she’s endured years of abuse at the hands of her own colleagues for being transgender.
“Transsexuals are here, and we aren’t going away,” she told CBS13. “We’re going to stand strong and fight for our careers and our lives.”
She started working with CDCR in 2002 and currently works as a correctional officer at a maximum security housing unit at California State Prison, Sacramento. After a brief leave of absence in 2012, Frederick returned to work, just after deciding to transition from male to female.
“Nobody likes you here, nobody wants you here,” Frederick said, describing the reaction from her co-workers. “The window was broken out of my brand new car in a maximum security parking lot. It was very hurtful to me.”
She says they called her a ‘freak’ and a ‘tranny’ and even locked her inside of a stairwell. But the final straw was a note written by an inmate that “expressly named [Frederick] and stated that [Frederick] was to be killed in the yard.” She told CBS 13 she learned her bosses knew about it but failed to tell her until weeks later.
“My life is actually in danger in this institution, and the administration wasn’t doing anything about it,” she said.
After 15 years with the department, she filed a lawsuit in June, claiming emotional and economic distress. She claims her superiors ignored her complaints and believes they’ve tried to force her to quit.
“Just because I’m transitioning, shouldn’t mean that I have to go find another career,” Frederick said.
CDCR’s manual cites “a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence,” a policy that Frederick’s attorney Robert Boucher says has been ignored in his client’s case.
“Hopefully, we can get them to see that what they’re doing is actually hurting other people,” Boucher said.
He said he’s even trying other cases right now against CDCR for discrimination based on race and sexual orientation.
“I depose the people who do these things all the time, and they just don’t see it,” Boucher said.
CDCR denied the allegations in the complaint, saying the department is “not liable for any of the claimed emotional or physical injuries.”
Frederick says she no longer sees a future working at the prison but wants to leave her career with her head held high.
“I at least wanted to lay the groundwork so that the next trans officer doesn’t step into this nightmare that I’ve stepped into,” she said.