By DAVE COLLINS
HARTFORD, Conn. — A lawyer for a transgender girl detained at Connecticut’s detention center for juvenile boys said Monday the teenager should be removed from the custody of the state Department of Children and Families because the agency isn’t equipped to treat her or other children in similar situations.
The 16-year-old girl was relocated from a psychiatric treatment center for children to the boys detention center in Middletown over the weekend, after DCF officials say she assaulted another youth and an employee at the treatment center and destroyed property. Both the treatment center and detention center are run by the DCF.
The move followed what DCF called similar assaults by the girl at a private treatment center and a Judicial Branch detention center that landed her at the state adult women’s prison without criminal charges for two months earlier this year. The girl’s lawyer, Aaron Romano, and civil liberties activists protested her detention at the adult prison, saying she was jailed in isolation that was doing her more psychological harm.
The girl, known only as Jane Doe to the public, has been traumatized by a history of neglect and severe sexual and physical abuse, Romano said. She is in a single room separated from other residents at the boys’ detention center.
Romano said he planned to ask a juvenile court judge this week to remove her from DCF custody and to oversee her care.
“What occurred (over the weekend) is the direct result of DCF’s lack of recognition of her as a transgender kid and not being able to provide adequate treatment for her,” Romano said. “This is what happens when you incarcerate children and you don’t provide them with adequate therapy.”
DCF officials have denied Romano’s allegations, saying the girl has been offered mental health treatment and other programs in every facility she has been in this year. The girl also has been receiving hormone therapy for her gender identity while under DCF care.
DCF declined to respond Monday to Romano’s comments questioning the agency’s ability to care for transgender youth. The agency has said in the past that the girl was too violent for the agency to handle and had previously transferred her into Department of Correction custody as authorized by a seldom-used state law.
The agency notified state police of the alleged assaults on Saturday.
“This is a sad and unfortunate event, however, as we indicated yesterday, we are waiting for state police to take whatever steps they deem appropriate,” DCF said in a statement Monday.
DCF Commissioner Joette Katz announced last month, while the girl was at the adult prison, that she had been accepted into an undisclosed private treatment center in Massachusetts where staff members have been trained in meeting the needs of transgender youth. DCF is waiting for Massachusetts state officials to approve admitting the girl.