On this page, the Prison Policy Initiative has curated all of the research about LGBT+ issues in the criminal justice system that we know of. You can also see a selection of our best original research on this topic on our Women and gender page. For research on other criminal justice topics, see our Research Library homepage.

  • Advancing Transgender Justice: Illuminating Trans Lives Behind and Beyond Bars Vera Institute of Justice and Black and Pink National, February, 2024“Nearly 90 percent of the [transgender] survey respondents had experienced extended solitary confinement at some point during their incarceration. More than half reported non-consensual sexual contact while incarcerated.”
  • From Victim to Victor: An Inquiry into Death by Incarceration, Gender, and Resistance in Pennsylvania Abolitionist Law Center, April, 2023“One third of [survey respondents'] cases involved the death of a romantic partner, and in 85% of those cases, the participants had experienced partner abuse.”
  • Protected & Served? 2022 Community Survey of LGBTQ+ People and People Living with HIV's Experiences with the Criminal Legal System Lambda Legal and Black and Pink National, February, 2023“In terms of both expectations and real experiences, trans people, gender nonconforming/ nonbinary people, and people of color were more likely to say that police were or would be very hostile, very skeptical, and very unfair to them.”
  • report thumbnail New data LGBT people across all demographics are at heightened risk of violent victimization Prison Policy Initiative, November, 2022“Lesbian and gay people experienced 44 victimizations per 1,000 people, which was more than twice the victimization rate of straight people (19 per 1,000 people). Bisexual people experienced victimization at almost seven times the rate of straight people.”
  • First Report of the Task Force on Issues Faced by TGNCNBI People in Custody Task Force on Issues Faced by TGNCNBI People in Custody, August, 2022(This report details findings and recommendations of the Task Force on Issues Faced by Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, Non-Binary, and Intersex (TGNCNBI) People in Custody, created to assess conditions and policies in New York City jails.)
  • System Involvement Among LBQ Girls and Women UCLA Williams Institute, April, 2022“Among those who are incarcerated, the percentage of girls and women who are LBQ is 3 and 10 times higher, respectively, than the proportion of queer girls and women in the general population.”
  • The carceral production of transgender poverty: How racialized gender policing deprives transgender women of housing and safety Dilara Yarbrough, May, 2021“Laws crafted with race-neutral language target survival and coping strategies disproportionately used by people of color and trans people in public space.”
  • report thumbnail Visualizing the unequal treatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2021“The data is clear: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ ) people are overrepresented at every stage of criminal justice system, starting with juvenile justice system involvement.”
  • Naming and Shaming: Violations of the Human Rights of Transgender Persons with Felonies in Texas Human Rights Clinic, Austin Community Law Center, and Trans Pride Initiative, November, 2020“By contributing to and facilitating an environment where the human rights of transgender persons are repeatedly and callously disregarded, Texas violates international treaties and the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”
  • LGBTQ Youth of Color Impacted by the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems: A Research Agenda UCLA Williams Institute, June, 2019“LGBTQ youth of color appear to stay longer in child welfare and juvenile justice systems and to be at elevated risk of discrimination and violence once system-involved compared to other groups of youth.”
  • Failing to Protect and Serve: Police Department Policies Towards Transgender People National Center for Transgender Equality, May, 2019(Only 9 of the 25 departments reviewed include gender identity and/or expression language in their non-discrimination policy, which is the best way to clarify that transgender people are protected.)
  • report thumbnail LGBTQ youth are at greater risk of homelessness and incarceration Prison Policy Initiative, January, 2019“Homelessness is the greatest predictor of involvement with the juvenile justice system. And since LGBTQ youth compose 40% of the homeless youth population, they are at an increased risk of incarceration.”
  • Appropriate Placement and Treatment of Transgender Prisoners: Constitutional Concerns and Arguments for Alternative Housing and Treatment Policies Scott J. Schweikart, December, 2018“The problem facing transgender prisoners has a significant racial and socio-economic component as imprisoned transgender people are”
  • Out of Sight: LGBTQ Youth and Adults in Texas' Justice Systems Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, October, 2018“LGBTQ people are more likely to experience abuse and harassment by staff and others in the correctional facility, improper placement and solitary confinement, and denial of health care and programming.”
  • LGBTQ People Behind Bars: A Guide to Understanding the Issues Facing Transgender Prisoners and Their Legal Rights National Center for Transgender Equality, October, 2018“Transgender people are nearly ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general prison population, with an estimated 40% of transgender people in state and federal prisons reporting a sexual assault in the previous year.”
  • report thumbnail The dismal state of transgender incarceration policies Prison Policy Initiative, November, 2017“Even in supposed progressive bastions such as California and Vermont, a trans person is not assured of the full range of basic rights that the federal commission deemed necessary for their safety while incarcerated.”
  • Unjust: How the broken criminal justice system fails LGBT people of color Center for American Progress, Movement Advancement Project.., August, 2016“This report focuses on LGBT people of color and their interactions with the criminal justice system.”
  • The Overrepresentation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning, Gender Nonconforming and Transgender Youth Within the Child Welfare to Juvenile Justice Crossover Population Angela Irvine and Aisha Canfield, April, 2016(The experience of crossing from the child welfare system to the juvenile justice system is important to think about because it is a measure of the heightened vulnerability and marginalization of LGBQ/GNCT youth, especially LGBQ/GNCT youth of color.)
  • "Do You See How Much I'm Suffering Here?" Abuse against Transgender Women in US Immigration Detention Human Rights Watch, March, 2016“[T]his report details the abuses that transgender women suffer in immigration detention and the US government’s inadequate efforts to address them.”
  • Hate Crime Statistics, 2014 Federal Bureau of Investigation, November, 2015“Of the 5,462 single-bias incidents reported in 2014, 47 percent were racially motivated. Other motivators included sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, and gender.”
  • Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey National Center for Transgender Equality; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2015“One-fifth (22%) of respondents who have interacted with police reported harassment by police due to bias, with substantially higher rates (29-38%) reported by respondents of color.”
  • Exploring Healthcare Experiences for Incarcerated Individuals Who Identify as Transgender in a Southern Jail Erin McCauley et al., 2015“Participants experienced high levels of abuse and harassment, solitary confinement, mental health issues, and lack of access to hormone treatment.”
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice personnel interactions with transgender people in the United States: A literature review Paywall :( Rebecca L. Stotzer, April, 2014“Large percentages of transgender people in institutional settings also reported abuse committed by criminal justice personnel, including harassment, assault, and a lack of protection from other inmates.”
  • The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth: An Overview of the Experiences of LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System Center for American Progress, June, 2012“Gay, transgender, and gender nonconforming youth are significantly over-represented in the juvenile justice system--approximately 300,000 gay and transgender youth are arrested and/or detained each year, of which more than 60 percent are black or Latino.”
  • This is a Prison: Glitter is Not Allowed Experiences of Trans and Gender Variant People in Pennsylvania's Prison System Hearts on a Wire Collective, 2011“Accounts of prison conditions... show the intensity of discrimination, abuse, medical neglect, and punitive isolation... on the inside. Incarcerated T/GV individuals report dismissal, intimidation, or retaliation when attempting to file grievances.”
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006“LGBT youth face the threat of victimization everywhere: at home, at school, at their jobs, and, for those who are out-of-home, at shelters and on the streets.”
  • Still In Danger: The Ongoing Threat of Sexual Violence against Transgender Prisoners Stop Prisoner Rape and ACLU National Prison Project, September, 2005

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