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  • Writer's pictureNBWJI

LBTQ Women, Girls, & Gender Nonconforming People Disproportionately Victimized & Criminalized

Every June, we celebrate Pride month alongside our LGBTQ family, friends, and allies.

But as more bans and anti-LGBTQ laws and policies are passed, we are also reminded of the disproportionate impact that many government systems—including the foster care, juvenile legal, and criminal legal systems—have had on lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer (LBTQ) girls and women of color, especially Black women and girls, for years. Black LBTQ women and girls are at greater risk for victimization, criminalization, & punishment.

Black LBTQ Women, Girls, & Gender Nonconforming People Disproportionately Victimized

We know from too many headlines, which research backs up, that LGBTQ people are disproportionately impacted by violent victimization.

Among youth, LGBTQ youth have been threatened or injured with a weapon at school at almost 3 times the rate of their non-LGBTQ youth peers. And the numbers are even worse for transgender youth and questioning youth, among whom 29% and 30%, respectively, report being threatened or injured with a weapon at school.

Among adults, of the 221 homicides of transgender individuals in America since January 2017, 63% were Black women.

Foster Care to Prison Pathways

The foster care-to-prison pipeline is well-documented. Children who have been involved in the foster care system are significantly more likely to have contact and involvement with the juvenile legal system and adult incarceration. Youth who are confined in juvenile detention are more likely to be incarcerated as adults.

There are 1.4 times more LBQ girls in foster care than in the general population of girls. And the proportion of Black LBQ girls in foster care is 4 times higher than in the general population.

LGBTQ youth are also 3x more likely to have been involved in both the foster care and juvenile legal systems—known as "crossover youth." Among these crossover youth, Black girls make up a significantly larger share compared to white girls and other girls of color: One study found that Black girls represented 41% of girls who were crossover youth compared 28% of girls in foster care generally.

Black LBTQ Women & Girls Disproportionately Incarcerated

Across the foster care, juvenile legal, and criminal legal systems, LBTQ women, girls, and gender nonconforming people, especially Black people, are disproportionately impacted.

  • In the juvenile legal system, where Black girls are already overrepresented, among LBQ girls, there are 2 times as many Black girls in juvenile detention as there are in the general population.

  • Among adults, there are 10 times as many LBQ women who are incarcerated as there are in the general population of women. Among incarcerated LBQ women there are 1.7 times as any Black LBQ women incarcerated as there are in the general population.

  • And Black transgender women are incarcerated at 10 times the rate of the general American population.

There is a long history of bias, abuse, and profiling toward LGBTQ people by law enforcement, along with high rates of poverty, homelessness, and discrimination in schools and the workplace—all of which has contributed to disproportionate contact with the legal system and leading to higher levels of incarceration.

Policies that criminalize poverty and homelessness also disproportionately impact LGBTQ people—especially transgender women of color.

Racial and gender inequities have produced and continue to produce unjust barriers and disadvantages that increase the risk of Black women & girls—especially Black LBTQ women & girls—coming in contact with law enforcement, courts, and places of confinement.

And the status quo of criminalization and punishment only causes more trauma and does not heal or increase public safety.

This Pride month, and every month, we must continue to advocate for dismantling pathways to criminalization and confinement for Black cis & trans women & girls and gender nonconforming people. And we must advocate for access to and expansion of services that support and promote healing and connection and help Black women and girls reclaim their power.


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