A man who dresses as a woman said the city of Nashville and the company that operates one of its prisons should pay him millions for putting him behind bars for three years with women.
Karla Brenner said once the female prisoners found out he had male anatomy, it became a living hell.
“The big hair, the makeup – I am an entertainer, a drag queen. 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,” Brenner said.
But when Brenner was convicted of felony theft for stealing a python purse in Green Hills, an already complicated life got more complicated.
Brenner said he was told to say nothing, to pretend he was a woman and go to the women’s prison. Officials said Brenner even checked a box that said he was a woman.
But Brenner said he was also examined by the Metro Health Department and that examination meant more than any checkmark in a box.
“How can you not tell a vagina from a penis? They had two doctors – someone from the board of health and a Metro administrator come to the jail. And they had me get on the table and examined me and everything. They also said I was female. I don’t understand that,” Brenner said.
And so Brenner was sent to women’s prison at Metro and again at Corrections Corporation of America, although Brenner and his lawyer said everyone knew Brenner was a man.
“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 attorney Jim Roberts.
Roberts said this goes way beyond Brenner’s case and that having a man in a women’s prison is a dangerous and unfair situation. “She could have been sexually assaulted or potentially other women could have been sexually assaulted,” Roberts said.
Brenner said he was, in fact, fondled by a female prisoner, and once word got out that he was a man Brenner said women prisoners were mad and took it out on her.
“I survived it through the grace of God, because it was hell. I had contemplated suicide. It was horrible,” Brenner said.
In a statement Wednesday, CCA said:
“Our goal is always to house inmates in the safest environment possible. This includes a professional, individual assessment of both the risk factors of their own unique circumstances and the safety needs of those around them.”
But Brenner and his lawyer said it just wasn’t right. “When Metro takes shortcuts like that people get hurt, people get killed and people’s rights get violated,” Roberts said. Officials with both CCA and Metro Health said they cannot comment on the lawsuit or even any medical information on a specific inmate. They will not tell their whole story until it goes to court.