Sir Elton John and Michael Stipe from rock band R.E.M. have called on the US government to do more to protect transgender inmates in American prisons.

The musicians and longtime LGBTI activists released a joint statement condemning the state of Georgia for its treatment of Ashley Diamond and Zahara Green, two transgender women who claim to have suffered horrific sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination while incarcerated in men’s prisons in the US state of Georgia.
“Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, yet they continue to face horrific injustices,” Elton and Michael said in a statement.

They allege that often “assaults in part go unreported because the perpetrators are prison guards, wardens and staff.”

“This is outrageous, and the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned,” they said.

In a February lawsuit, Diamond claims she was denied access to hormone medication she’d been taking for 17 years. The US Justice Department recently intervened in her case, slamming the state’s alleged denial of her meds as “cruel and unusual punishment” and a violation of the country’s Eighth Amendment.

“We applaud the US Department of Justice for supporting Ashley Diamond and the trans community in arguing that Georgia’s policy of denying transgender inmates their medically necessary hormone treatment is unconstitutional,” the musicians said.

“But we must do more to end the culture of violence and discrimination surrounding gender identity and expression. We urge the state of Georgia to embrace desperately needed changes to their correctional system.”

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