A 55-year-old woman is suing the Miami-Dade County Corrections Department after she says they assumed she was actually a man and placed her in a male holding cell for several hours despite her protest.
The incident occurred in November of 2013 when Fior Pichardo de Veloz was visiting Florida to witness the birth of her grandchild.
According to the report, Pichardo de Veloz was taken into custody at the Miami International Airport after authorities discovered she had a warrant for a dated drug charge she did not know was outstanding.
Once in custody Pichardo de Veloz was strip-searched for any contraband by a female officer who reported that she did not find any abnormality with the 55-year-old.
Authorities then gave Pichardo de Veloz a female orange jumpsuit and escorted her to the medical wing for a quick checkup due to her medical history of high blood pressure.
While in the medical wing, staff members began to question Pichardo de Veloz’ gender after seeing that she wrote that she was taking hormone pills in addition to several other medications on her medical paperwork.
One of the nurses asked whether the 55-year-old was a man and a shocked Pichardo de Veloz replied no. She was then led to a facility doctor who asked her about her medical history but never asked about her gender and why she was taking hormone pills.
Despite all of the evidence claiming that the 55-year-old is, in fact, a woman, the doctor relisted Pichardo de Veloz’ gender as male and sent her back to corrections officials telling them to place her in the male holding cell. Two officers questioned the doctor’s evaluation, however, they were overruled by the doctor’s orders. Pichardo de Veloz was then driven to an all-male jail and placed in a holding cell with 40 males for 10 hours.
While in the holding cell Pichardo de Veloz says she was taunted by the male inmates and was so afraid of even using the restroom that she urinated on herself. She also reported that when she informed the officer who was transporting her to the all-male jail of the mistake, the officer allegedly replied “You are a woman. Good luck if you’re alive tomorrow.”
It wasn’t until the woman’s family showed up at the jail and explained that the pills were to help with the symptoms of menopause that the corrections office issued a new physical examination and realized their mistake.
During the second examination, however, Pichardo de Veloz says she could hear the officers snickering and saw one of the officers take a picture of her while she undressed for the examination.
Once released Pichardo de Veloz sued the county for “cruel and unusual punishment” but the case was thrown out by a federal judge who said the jail staffers were protected from a trial for negligence.
A federal appeals court has since reinstated the lawsuit this month against the jail doctor and nurse.
This is a developing story.