Centering LGBTQ+ people in the fight against mass incarceration
The carceral system hurts everyone who passes through it. But, when that system compounds with other structures of oppression — like racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia — folks who live at those intersections are even more vulnerable to the harms of mass incarceration.
We’ve talked a lot about what that looks like for women and mothers through Apart — a documentary that follows the stories of Malika, Tomika, Lydia and Amanda as they work to prepare to return home and rebuild their lives after spending years separated from their children.
We can’t forget that LGBTQ+ people face unique challenges in all aspects of the system. Queer people are three times more likely to be incarcerated than their heterosexual counterparts, and once in prison, are likely to experience abuse. Not only are they incarcerated at higher rates than cisgender or heterosexual people, but they also typically recieve longer sentences.
Queer youth face challenges as well. 20% of youth in the juvenile justice system are LGBTQ+, despite only making up 4-6% of youth as a whole.
And while there is less data about the experience of trans people in the system, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey shows that one in six trans people have been incarcerated, and 47% of Black trans people have been incarcerated. Inside facilities, they are more likely to be denied gender-affirming care, and experience harassment and assault.
In June 2020, you all helped us donate $10,000 to the LGBTQ Freedom Fund to help bring incarcerated queer people home. Last June, we paid tribute to Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, and other trans leaders who paved the way for a liberation movement that informs the work of advocates transforming the justice system today.
When we talk about mass incarceration, we have to keep the experiences of folks in the LGBTQ+ community at the center. So for this Pride Month, we wanted to highlight a handful of LGBTQ+ leaders who make their communities a safer, healthier place for folks who’ve been impacted by the carceral system every day.
Stay tuned for their amazing stories. And if you want to learn more, or connect to organizations you can support, check out some of the resources below:
- Visualizing the unequal treatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system
- Black & Pink — national organization supporting LGBTQ and HIV-positive people in prison
- Lambda Legal — the oldest and largest national legal organization focused on LGBTQ civil rights
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project — offers legal services for incarcerated trans people