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Tennessee Man Sues for Placement in Women’s Facility for Three Years

Tennessee Man Sues for Placement in Women’s Facility for Three Years

"How can you not tell a vagina from a penis?” asked Carla Brenner, aka Lamonda Fuller, a female impersonator who filed suit against the City of Nashville, Tennessee and the private company that held him in a women’s facility for three years.

“The big hair, the makeup – I am an entertainer, a drag queen,” Brenner stated. “That basically means a man who enjoys dressing as a woman. It’s not a woman. I have no intention on being a woman – never, ever have.”

Nevertheless, when Brenner was convicted of stealing a purse in Nashville, he was sent to a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) facility that houses women offenders.

Brenner said he was told not to say anything, to pretend he was a woman and to go to the women’s facility, for reasons that were unclear. He went so far as to check a box that said he was female, officials noted. That’s apparently all it took.

Brenner dismissed attempts to fault him for his predicament. “They had two doctors – someone from the board of health and a Metro administrator come to the jail,” he said. “And they had me get on the table and examined me and everything. They also said I was female. I don’t understand that.”

As a result, Brenner served time at a Metro women’s facility and also at CCA even though everyone knew he was a man, said attorney Jim Roberts, who filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Brenner against CCA and the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

“Metro’s decision was, ‘Let’s do it the easy way. She looks female on the outside. We will lie to everybody and say she’s a female,’ even though they knew she was a male the entire time,” said Roberts.

Although CCA and Metro officials refused to comment on the lawsuit, they issued a statement implying it was in Brenner’s best interests to be placed in a women’s facility.

“Our goal is always to house inmates in the safest environment possible,” the statement declared. “This includes a professional, individual assessment of both the risk factors of their own unique circumstances and the safety needs of those around them.”

Roberts didn’t buy it. “When Metro takes shortcuts like that people get hurt, people get killed and people’s rights get violated,” he said. “[Brenner] could have been sexually assaulted or potentially other women could have been sexually assaulted.”

Brenner agreed, noting that once his fellow prisoners learned he was male, life became a nightmare. The women were angry they were housed with a man and took it out on him. One prisoner even fondled him, and he was subjected to strip searches by female guards.

“I survived through the grace of God, because it was hell,” said Brenner. “I had contemplated suicide. It was horrible.”

Brenner’s lawsuit, filed in March 2011, was dismissed on August 18, 2014. The district court found that while he had filed a grievance complaining about being housed at a women’s facility, he failed to complete the grievance process prior to filing suit and could no longer exhaust administrative remedies because he had since been released. See: Brenner v. CCA, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Tenn.), Case No. 3:11-cv-00307.

Meanwhile, two female prisoners have filed a lawsuit against CCA and the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, alleging violations of their constitutional rights due to being housed with a male prisoner – including showering and sharing a bathroom with Brenner and being strip searched in his presence. That suit, filed in federal court in May 2013, currently remains pending. See: Horton v. CCA, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Tenn.), Case No. 3:13-cv-00437.


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Related legal cases

Brenner v. CCA

Horton v. CCA