For the first time, Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman, is speaking out about her mistreatment in the Georgia prison system.
Diamond, 36, was serving time for burglary, theft by receiving, and escaping police custody in Floyd County. During that time, she said she was raped, ridiculed and tormented by inmates and staff at five different Georgia prisons, including Baldwin State Prison and Georgia State Prison.
11Alive's Jeremy Campbell was the first to conduct an on-camera interview with Diamond following her release from prison.
"I really didn't know what to expect," Diamond said about going to prison for the first time. "As soon as I got there, I was immediately told to strip in front of other men. Of course, there were stares and hollers. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life."
According to Diamond, the assaults began immediately. She said she was "targeted right away."
"It was an every night thing," Diamond said of the attacks. "(The staff) turned a blind-eye to it all. I think that the gangs run the prisons. I think think that I was extorted and used."
She was also denied hormonal therapy, which she had been taking for almost 20 years to enhance her feminine characteristics and suppress masculine features.
"My body began to morph, which was very painful," Diamond said. "I literally thought I was going to die. I was very vocal from the beginning about needing my therapy."
Since being released from prison, things have not been any easier for Diamond, who is currently living in Rome, Ga., the town she grew up in.
"Not everyone (in Rome) has warmly received me," she said. "But I definitely am fighting for a change in the prison system."
Part of that fight includes a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections, which she and her lawyer Chinyere Ezie filed back in April.
While she knows what happened to her in prison cannot be taken back, Diamond said she hopes her story will help inspire others to be themselves.
"People need to realize transgender people are just like anyone else. We have the same dreams as everyone else -- we are just like every one else, it just so happens we were born in the wrong body," she said. "This is about transgender people being accepted, period. There are so many people there counting on me and it's a role I gladly assume."