sprinkle: an undergraduate journal of feminist and queer studies


Krystina Millar


The most recent statistics indicate there are an estimated 3,200 transgender inmates in the United States correctional system. The majority of trans inmates in prison are trans women. Regardless of criminal status, transgender individuals face social isolation, violence, and both explicit and implicit discrimination. These hardships are often magnified inside the walls of a correctional facility. In addition to facing institutional challenges, transgender women must navigate the culture of prison as someone who falls outside of normative conceptions of gender in a sex-segregated environment, often characterized by androcentrism, hypermasculinity and violence. This article aims to review the literature on the experiences of transgender women using theoretical conceptions of gender and gender performance, as well as highlight some of the unique challenges faced by trans women behind bars. Specific problems faced by trans women include violence and sexual abuse, lack of adequate healthcare, and being denied gender affirming accommodations. Research grounded in feminist standpoint theory is needed in order to prioritize the voices of trans women in prison, increase awareness of the hardships faced by trans women, inform activism efforts, and achieve institutional change.

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