Published July, 2016

Unjust: How the Justice System Fails Transgender People, Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project (2016)

This report frames the overrepresentation of transgender people in the criminal legal system as a result of, and further cause of, discrimination, targeting, and marginalization. In exploring the overrepresentation of transgender people in the criminal legal system, the report offers factual analysis together with stories of transgender people targeted by the criminal legal system. The report also highlights the “unique impact of the criminal justice and immigration systems on documented and undocumented transgender immigrants.”

In 2011, 21% of transgender women and 10% of transgender men reported spending time in prison, compared with 5% of all US adults. This overrepresentation may be caused by discrimination in education, housing, or the criminal legal system itself; by laws criminalizing HIV, sex work, and drug abuse; and by “bathroom laws.” Once incarcerated, transgender people may face harassment and assault, be denied proper medical care, or be placed in a prison population that does not match their gender identity. After release, collateral consequences of convictions, coupled with discrimination, deny transgender people the necessary tools to rebuild their lives, trapping them in a cycle of poverty, crime, and gender suppression. 

The accompanying chart excerpted from the larger document provides a helpful snapshot depicting how the criminal legal system fails transgender people.