The Gender Justice League, an organization dedicated to “empower[ing] Trans* activists and our allies to fight oppression based on gender & sexuality in Washington State and to create a community where trans* people can live their lives safely, true to themselves, and free from discrimination” has signed on to the Points of Unity against youth incarceration and racism in the child welfare system.
Trans and gender non-conforming people face high extremely high rates of criminalization and severe violence inside jails and prisons.
Because of family rejection and widespread employment discrimination, many trans people are poor and homeless. Trans people are four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/year than the general population. However, trans people in need often can’t access social services because of the ways they will be mis-categorized by gender in these spaces. For example, many homeless trans women live in cities where the shelter system places them in men’s shelters. This is so dangerous that many do not use the shelter system, and face the dangers of the street instead. Many trans youth are placed in foster care group homes based on their birth gender, subjected to harassment and violence there, and often punished if they wear clothing that feels right or otherwise express their gender. These youth become runaways, living on the street because the system has no place for them. Because poverty is criminalized in the US—people are routinely arrested for sleeping outside, “loitering,” sitting on sidewalks, or just generally looking poor or homeless—trans people are highly criminalized. Many do criminalized work, including in the sex trade—one of the few kinds of employment open to trans women. The result is that many trans people spend time in prisons or jails, where they are consistently placed based on birth gender. Trans women all over the US are in men’s prisons and jails, facing severe sexual violence.
Stopping criminalization is a big priority for trans resistance activists across the country, and here in King County we are so grateful to have the Gender Justice League making the connections between the racism and gender policing that happen in the family court and youth jail systems and their gender liberation mission.