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Report: Justice System Fails Transgender People

A new report says transgender people are targeted and mistreated in the U.S. justice system. (usaid.gov)
A new report says transgender people are targeted and mistreated in the U.S. justice system. (usaid.gov)
May 26, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Transgender people end up behind bars at a much higher rate than others, and once there they are subjected to harassment, abuse and violence. That's according to a study by the Movement Advancement Project and the Center for American Progress.

Policy and Research director Naomi Goldberg says 21 percent of transgender women have been in jail or prison, as well as 10 percent of transgender men, while only five percent of the entire adult population has. She says once a transgender person does run afoul of the law, their research found they aren't treated properly.

"Everything from being placed in an inappropriate facility because of their gender identity, to lack of access to medical care to high rates of sexual assault by both staff and other incarcerated people," she said.

Goldberg says once they're released from prison, there's a lack of support for people who have a criminal record to find jobs and housing, so many people just end up back behind bars.

She says transgender people face a lot of discrimination, meaning the cards are stacked against them.

"Very few surveys ask about gender identity or gender expression," she added. "In many places across this country, transgender people lack equal protections in housing, in employment accommodations, in employment and in terms of being able to access an accurate gender marker on their birth certificate or drivers license."

She says one in five has experienced homelessness because of discrimination and family rejection.

Goldberg feels eventually there will be acceptance.

"The growing understanding of what it means to be transgender and the more visibility that transgender people in our communities have, I think the more comfortable and familiar society will be," she said. "And certainly my hope is transgender people will no longer be targeted and singled out."

The full report can be read here.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD