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Incarcerated LGBTQ+ Youth and Adults, 2022

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Incarcerated LGBTQ+
Adults and Youth

1

-

THE
SENTENCING
PROJECT

RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY FOR REFORM

This report was written by Emma Stammen, Research Fellow, and Nazgol Ghandnoosh,
Ph.D., Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project.
This report benefited from the generous feedback of Dee Farmer.

The Sentencing Project advocates for effective and humane responses to crime that
minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial,
ethnic, economic, and gender justice.
Copyright © 2022 by The Sentencing Project. Reproduction of this document in full or
in part, and in print or electronic format, only by permission of The Sentencing Project.

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Incarcerated LGBTQ+ Adults and Youth
This fact sheet examines the criminalization and over-incarceration of LGBTQ+ adults and youth. The LGBTQ+
population is comprised of people with non-heterosexual identities—those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
others—and people with non-cisgender identities—those who are trans and gender non-conforming. LGBTQ+
adults are incarcerated at three times the rate of the total adult population.1 LGBTQ+ youth’s representation
among the incarcerated population is double their share of the general population.2
LGBTQ+ people experience high rates of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and violence—
factors which drive their overrepresentation in the criminal legal system. In both adult and youth facilities,
imprisoned LGBTQ+ people face physical, sexual, and verbal harassment and abuse, as well as a lack of genderaffirming housing, clothing, personal hygiene products, medical care, and mental health treatment. To help
alleviate these harms, states and the federal government should repeal laws that criminalize LGBTQ+ people,
limit the use of solitary confinement, mandate access to gender-affirming health care in correctional facilities,
and invest in drug and mental health treatment and reentry programs for LGBTQ+ youth and adults.

I. POPULATION SIZE
A. Adults
The most recent national data on incarceration and
sexuality is from the 2012 National Inmate Survey. Applying
the percentages from that survey to the 2020 incarcerated
population suggests that there are approximately 90,000
people who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual in
prisons and 34,000 in jails.3 Reports from NBC News
and Associated Press—published in 2020 and 2021
respectively—found that there are over 6,000 people who
self-identify as trans in state and federal prisons (data are
not available on the size of the jailed trans population).4
Women drive the higher representation of LGBTQ+ people
in prisons and jails. In prisons, 33.3% of women and 5.5%
of men identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, compared to
7.6% and 6.8%, respectively, in the general population.5 In
jails, 26.4% of women and 3.3% of men identify as lesbian,
gay or bisexual.6
3

35%

Figure 1. Lesbian and Bisexual Women:
Incarcerated vs. General Population, 2020

30%

Figure 2. Gay and Bisexual Men:
Incarcerated vs. General Population, 2020
35%

30%

30%

25%

25%

35%
10%

35%
10%

8%

5%
0%
Lesbian & bisexual women
in prison and jail

5%
0%

Lesbian & bisexual women
in general population

7%

5%
Gay & bisexual men
in prison and jail

Gay & bisexual men
in general population

Meyer, I. H., Flores, A. R., Stemple, L., Romero, A. P., Wilson, B. D. M., & Herman, J. L. (2017). Incarceration rates and traits of sexual
minorities in the United States: National inmate survey 2011-2012. AJPH Research, 107(2); Carson, E. A. (2021). Prisoners in 2020:
Statistical Tables. US Department of Justice. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/p20st.pdf; & Minton, T. D., & Zeng, Z. (2021). Jail inmates
in 2020—Statistical tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/ji20st.pdf

The over-representation of women and people of
color in the incarcerated LGBTQ+ population is
especially notable in the trans population: one in five
(21%) trans women have experienced incarceration
at some point in their lives, as have nearly half (47%)
of all Black trans people.7 According to the National
Center for Transgender Equality, 16% of all trans
people have experienced incarceration at some point
during their lives.8

Figure 3. LGBTQ+ Youth: Incarcerated vs.
General Population, 2019
25%
20%

20%

15%
10%

10%
5%
0%

B. Youth
Among minors in youth justice facilities on a typical
day in 2019, 20% identified as LGBTQ+, representing
approximately 7,300 people.9 By comparison, only
9.5% of youth ages 13 to 17 in the general population
identify as LGBTQ+.10

LGBTQ+ youth
in youth justice system

LGBTQ+ youth
in general population

Center for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2; Conron, K.
J. (2020). LGBT youth population in the United States. UCLA School
of Law Williams Institute. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/
wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Youth-US-Pop-Sep-2020.pdf

PROFILEAllie Reyes

Within youth justice facilities, youth of color
comprise 67% of the overall population, but 85% of
the incarcerated LGBTQ+ population.11 While 40%
of detained girls identify as LGBTQ+, the figure for
detained boys is 14%.12

4

II. DRIVERS OF OVERREPRESENTATION
substance use disorders than straight people, often
resulting from social stigmatization, fear of rejection,
and lack of acceptance.16

Allie Reyes
In 2015, 15-year-old Allie Reyes was arrested

These factors, along with family rejection,
employment discrimination, the high cost of genderaffirming health care, and the absence of safe shelters
and culturally competent substance use services
can lead LGBTQ+ people to engage in street-based
economies—such as drug sales and sex work—that
increase their risk of criminal legal involvement and
police violence. LGBTQ+ youth, often fleeing abuse
and lack of acceptance, are over twice as likely to
report homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ youth,17 and
often experience disproportionate enforcement of
low-level offenses (e.g., loitering, sleeping outside,
panhandling, and prostitution). Adverse experiences
at home or in foster care can affect young people’s
performance in school, fueling the school-to-prison
pipeline: 90% of LGBTQ+ youth in detention have been
suspended or expelled from school at least once.18

after a fight with her mother. At the Sununu
Youth Services Center in New Hampshire,
Reyes was isolated on a separate floor from
the girls’ unit because she is trans. “When I first
got there, I was immediately retraumatized. My
gender was invalidated,” she remembered.13
After three years in and out of the facility,
Reyes struggled with severe depression
and an eating disorder. Reyes, who had
experienced homelessness for many of her
teenage years, is now an advocate for ending
youth homelessness and expanding health
care accessibility for young people aging out

Police bias, anti-trans laws, and discriminatory bail
practices contribute to higher rates of incarceration
for LGBTQ+ people, especially trans women of
color. LGBTQ+ people are nearly four times as likely
as straight people to be victims of violent crime.19
For trans victims of domestic violence (particularly
trans persons of color), or for those acting in selfdefense, police involvement can often result in their
own arrest.20 Black trans women regularly report
that police fail to take their reports of violence
seriously.21 Further, legal strategies such as the
“LGBTQ+ panic defense” are often used to justify
acts of violence against members of the LGBTQ+
community, sometimes positing that the perpetrator

of the youth justice system.

High rates of poverty, homelessness, discrimination,
and violence against LGBTQ+ adults and youth
perpetuate their overrepresentation in the criminal
legal system. LGB+ adults are twice as likely as the
general population to experience homelessness
in their lifetimes.14 In 2019, 22% of LGBTQ+ people
lived in poverty, with 31% of Black LGBTQ+ people
living in poverty, as compared to 16% of cisgender
straight people.15 LGB+ people are more likely to have

5

committed an act of self-defense triggered by the
identity of the victim.22 “Walking while trans” policies
and practices—in which police routinely profile trans
women of color as sex workers—also increase risk
of police violence and arrest.23 In 2018, under New
York’s recently repealed “Loitering for the Purpose
of Prostitution” statute, 91% of those arrested were
Black and Latinx.24 The statute criminalized behaviors
such as repeatedly attempting to stop or wave at a
vehicle or attempting to talk to other individuals on
the street.25

because they are perceived as flight risks or dangers
to the community.26 Pretrial judges and parole
board members may also fail to recognize chosen
families as legitimate support networks for release,
or acknowledge the responsibilities that LGBTQ+
people have to non-legally adopted children.27 Some
research suggests that LGBTQ+ people are more
likely to be convicted of violent crimes that result in
longer prison sentences than straight people.28 As
sentencing reforms have mainly focused on nonviolent convictions, LGBTQ+ people are left facing
lengthy sentences with fewer chances for review and
release.29

LGBTQ+ people can also experience unwarranted
pretrial detention due to discriminatory bail practices.
The Center for Lesbian Rights reports that LGBTQ+
people receive higher bail amounts than others

6

Recommended Reforms
1. Prevention and Enforcement

• Consider circumstances of incarceration—
including conditions of confinement, the impact
of a person’s incarceration on family and
community, and any evidence of physical, sexual,
or psychological abuse while incarcerated—
at the point of sentencing and in sentencing
reviews and parole hearings.

• Decriminalize sex work and repeal anti-loitering
laws that are used to profile and target trans
people, as recommended by the Transgender
Law Center.30 Decriminalize low-level quality
of life offenses associated with poverty and
homelessness, such as sleeping in public,
loitering, disorderly conduct, and panhandling.
Research has found that misdemeanor nonprosecution not only benefits individuals, but
also improves public safety.31

• Remove strict behavioral standards from
sentencing review legislation, parole hearing
criteria, and policies that disadvantage LGBTQ+
people. As LGBTQ+ people are more likely
to receive disciplinary write-ups for issues
related to their identity (e.g., using genderaffirming clothing and products, and reporting
sexual misconduct), second look bills that
require incarcerated people to have few or no
disciplinary write-ups on their records would
disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ people’s
chances for resentencing or release.35

• Broaden anti-discrimination laws and adopt the
kinds of provisions found in the End Racial and
Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA), which would
prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement
from targeting people based on “actual or
perceived” race, ethnicity, national origin, religion,
gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.32
• Repeal HIV-criminalization laws. As of 2021,
35 states had laws that punish non-disclosure
of HIV status prior to consensual sex. These
laws disproportionately impact Black and
LGBTQ+ communities, and in some states, can
add penalty enhancements to sex work and
solicitation convictions.33 States should instead
invest in harm reduction and treatment services,
including HIV prevention programs, screenings,
antiretroviral therapies, and access to condoms
and sterile syringes.

• Monitor and create accountability to eliminate
disparities in sentencing resulting from
discretionary bias and based on criminal
histories.
3 Culturally-Competent Services
• Create emergency and transitional housing
specifically for LGBTQ+ youth and adults. Ensure
that all treatment and social service providers
who receive referrals from the criminal legal
system and all alternatives-to-incarceration
programs are qualified to provide inclusive and
culturally-competent care.

2. Sentencing and Sentence Review
• Incorporate sexuality and gender identity into
training programs for pretrial and sentencing
judges, similar to those provided by the Williams
Institute’s Judicial Education Program, and
create similar trainings for police, prosecutors,
and public defenders.34

• Promote economic and financial security,
ensure access to stable housing, and protect the
civil rights of LGBTQ+ people, as detailed by the
Center for American Progress.36

7

III. CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT
A. Sexual Assault and
Harassment in Custody

Charles Rhines

LGBTQ+ adults and youth in the criminal legal
system are at an increased risk of sexual assault and
harassment from other incarcerated people and staff,
compared to cisgender and straight people. The 2012
National Inmate Survey found that 12% of LGB people
in prison and 9% in jail reported experiencing sexual
victimization from another incarcerated person, as
compared to 1% of straight people in prisons and
jails.39 Of LGB people in prisons and jails, 5% and 4%
respectively reported sexual victimization from staff,
compared to 2% of incarcerated straight people.40
That same year, 40% of trans people in state and
federal prisons reported sexual victimization.41 In the
Bureau of Justice Statistic’s 2009 National Survey of
Youth in Custody, 20% of LGB+ youth reported sexual
victimization by other youth or staff, compared to
11% of straight youth.42

Charles Rhines was executed in 2019
in South Dakota, after serving 27 years
in prison for a burglary-turned murder.
Following Rhines’ trial in 1992, multiple
jurors provided sworn testimony that their
death sentence decision was swayed by the
fact that Rhines was a gay man. According
to one juror, the jury knew that Rhines was
gay, and “thought that he shouldn’t be able
to spend his life with men in prison.”37
Another juror stated that there was “lots of
discussion of homosexuality. There was a
lot of disgust.” In 2019, Rhines’ case was

Sexual assault in prisons remains a significant issue,
especially for those who identify as LGBTQ+, due in
part to obstacles created by federal laws. In 2003,
the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) established
national standards for federal and state facilities to
analyze and prevent incidents of sexual assault in
prisons, jails, and detention facilities (as PREA is tied
to federal funding, it does not have jurisdiction over
jails, although some have adopted the standards).43
PREA established standards surrounding correctional
leadership and accountability, sexual assault
prevention, training, reporting, data collection,
discipline, investigations, medical and mental health
services and prosecution.44 All facilities covered

examined by the U.S. Supreme Court. The
ACLU filed an amici curiae in support of
Rhines, arguing that bias against LGBTQ+
people in jury deliberations “interferes with
the right to a fair and impartial jury.”38 The
Supreme Court ultimately upheld Rhines’
sentence, and he was executed later that
year.

8

under PREA are audited at least once every three
years, during which the facility’s practices and
procedures are observed to measure compliance
with the standards.45 But the rates of sexual assault
presented above have occurred amidst these
audits—underscoring the need for more rigorous
enforcement.
When sexual assaults occur, the 1996 Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) makes it more difficult
for incarcerated people to file lawsuits in federal
court, requiring them to exhaust all avenues of the
prison’s grievance process and pay all court filing
fees in full.46 PLRA also stipulates that lawsuits for
mental or emotional injury cannot be filed without
proof of physical injury.47 While PREA sets up an
exception to the PLRA exhaustion process for sexual
assault complaints—eliminating extra hurdles such
as ​​time limits on filing grievances, strict procedural
requirements, “informal” resolution requirements, and
prohibitions on assistance for filing grievances48—
it does not create a private right of action for
incarcerated people.

Recommended Reforms
• Repeal the Prison Litigation Reform Act.49
• Improve PREA implementation, oversight,
and audits, and establish stiffer penalties for
non-compliance. For states and agencies
that do not meet the federal standards, PREA
currently allows for a denial of only 5% of
federal criminal justice assistance.50

9

B. Solitary Confinement
The use of solitary confinement is pervasive in
the United States, and is sometimes used for the
protective custody of vulnerable populations and
victims of assault.51 Research demonstrates that the
clinical impacts of isolation on both youth and adults
can be similar to those of physical torture; responses
to solitary confinement can include perceptual
distortions and hallucinations, increased anxiety,
rage, fear, lack of impulse control, depression, sleep
problems, self-mutilation, and lower levels of brain
function.52 Prison officials disproportionately place
LGBTQ+ people in solitary confinement because of
their gender identity or sexuality, citing concerns for
their safety. In 2014, Black & Pink surveyed 1,200
imprisoned people nationwide who subscribed to
the organization’s publication and found that 85% of
imprisoned LGBTQ+ respondents had been in solitary
confinement at some time during their sentence.53
In contrast, 20% of the total prison population
spent time in solitary confinement between 2011
and 2012.54 According to Black & Pink, many
imprisoned trans people are placed in “indefinite,
prolonged
solitary
confinement—conditions
classified by the U.N. as torture—ostensibly for their
own protection.”55Although PREA discourages the
placement of people who are especially vulnerable
to sexual assault in “protective custody,” the practice
continues with little to no judicial oversight;56 very few
states ban or regulate the use of solitary confinement.
Staff at youth detention centers often isolate LGBTQ+
youth for similar reasons. This kind of isolation limits
access to programs and services, and increases
risk of harassment and abuse by staff. In 2016, the
Department of Justice prohibited the use of solitary
confinement for youth in federal custody, but the
prohibition does not extend to youth confined under
state laws.57

10

Recommended Reforms
• Limit the use of solitary confinement to 15 days
for all incarcerated people and ban solitary
confinement for vulnerable populations, such
as children, pregnant people, and people with
mental illnesses, as dictated by the United
Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners (“Nelson Mandela
Rules”), adopted in 2015.58
• Provide avenues for incarcerated people to
contest their placement and eliminate the use
of solitary confinement for protection.
• Implement state legislation similar to New York’s
Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary
Confinement (HALT) Act, which limits the use of
solitary confinement to 15 days and establishes
rehabilitative alternatives, such as Residential
Rehabilitation Units.59 In 2019, New Jersey
passed the Isolated Confinement Restriction
Act, which limits solitary confinement to 20
consecutive days and prohibits its use against
vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ+
people.60

IV. HEALTH CARE
Hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery are
medical necessities that are exceptionally difficult
for trans and gender non-conforming people in prison
to access.61 Incarcerated people and advocates note
that it can take months or years for people in prison
to obtain gender dysphoria diagnoses, which are
required for treatment.62 Among respondents to Black
& Pink’s survey, only 43% of imprisoned transgender,
nonbinary, and Two-Spirit respondents had been
diagnosed with gender dysphoria, while 31% were
denied diagnoses63—often due to substantial delays
in receiving care, administrative barriers, denial for
non-medical reasons, or staff who are unequipped to
provide gender-affirming health care.64 Similarly, only
23% of these respondents reported taking hormones
at the time of the survey, while 44% were reportedly
denied access to hormones.65 In a 2009 national
study of trans women in the United States, 21%
were denied hormones and 15% were denied regular
medical care while incarcerated.66 According to
Disability Rights Washington, most U.S. jurisdictions
do not allow incarcerated people access to genderaffirming surgery.67

Rejection of transgender health care is not limited
to prisons. During the 2022 state legislative cycle,
at least 20 anti-trans youth medical bans have been
introduced that would criminalize gender-affirming
care for trans people under age 18.70 For example,
Idaho’s House Bill 675—passed by the House in March
of 2022—could result in sentences of life in prison
for parents who support their children in receiving
hormones or surgeries.71

Recommended Reforms
• Require state and federal facilities to provide
incarcerated people with access to the
underwear, uniforms, and personal hygiene
products of their choice.
• Repeal past and reject future laws that
criminalize health care for trans and gender
non-conforming youth. Prosecutors and
law enforcement officials should decline to
enforce and prosecute family members and
health care providers under these laws.72

The majority of staff in the youth justice system are
untrained and lack an understanding of the medical
needs of LGBTQ+ youth.68 Not only does placing
gender non-conforming youth in facilities that do not
align with their identity increase their risk of violent
victimization, it also limits their access to appropriate
services, such as gender-affirming clothing, personal
products, and medical treatments. In some cases,
trans youth in confinement have to get a court order
to receive appropriate medical care.69

• Treat gender dysphoria as a serious medical
need, for which incarcerated trans and gender
non-conforming people must have access to
clinically-indicated care.
• Invest in counseling and mental health
treatment for incarcerated LGBTQ+ people,
regardless of whether they have a diagnosed
psychological disorder.

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V. HOUSING, SEARCHES, AND GENDER EXPRESSION

B. Searches

A. Housing

Incarcerated trans people are at a high risk of
sexual harassment from staff during searches and
strip searches. PREA has limits on cross-gender
searches, but the regulations do not prioritize
trans and intersex people’s expressed preference
for the gender of the correctional officer searching
them. Searches can be especially traumatic
for incarcerated trans people, as they are often
searched by an officer of a different gender, and
are sometimes searched “simply so that prison
staff can see their genital characteristics, or for
the purpose of humiliating or harassing them.”76

Incarcerated trans people should be given a choice
as to where they are housed and by whom they are
searched. A study of 315 trans women incarcerated
in 27 California prisons found that 65% preferred to
be housed in men’s facilities.73 In January 2022, the
Federal Bureau of Prisons revised its housing policies
for trans people in prison to require that a transgender
or intersex person’s views on their own safety be given
“serious consideration” in housing and programming
assignments.74 However, despite this reform, trans
people leaving prison are often placed in re-entry
programs and transitional housing that do not match
their identity, resulting in violence, harassment, and
even parole violations for trans people who dress
according to their gender identity.75 Also, this federallevel change does not apply to state prisons, where
the majority of trans people are incarcerated.

C. Gender Expression
LGBTQ+ people in prison face a striking lack
of resources and support necessary for their
health and safety. Gender-affirming clothing and
products for gender non-conforming people are
extremely limited inside prisons, and their use
often results in unwarranted disciplinary writeups and punishments. Black & Pink’s survey of
1,200 imprisoned members found that only 21%
of respondents had access to underwear and
cosmetics that matched their gender identity.77 In
2021, trans men incarcerated in Texas reported
that they had been required to wear sports bras
and women’s underwear, and to keep their hair
longer than 2.5 inches (or risk disciplinary writeup); they were also unable to purchase chest
binders.78

24+76

Figure 4. Trans People in State Versus
Federal Prisons, 2020-2021
1,200

4,890

n Trans people in
federal prisons

n Trans people in
state prisons

Balsamo, M., & Ibrahim, M. (2021, Sept 17). Justice Department
reviewing policies on transgender inmates. Associated Press.
https://apnews.com/article/religion-crime-prisons-minnesotaillinois-007d87693249a9831867a5289c09e612; Sosin, K. (2020,
Feb 26). Trans, imprisoned—and trapped. NBC News. https://
www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/transgender-women-arenearly-always-incarcerated-men-s-putting-many-n1142436
12

Incarceration exacerbates harm against

While federal correctional staff are prohibited from
repeatedly mis-gendering trans and non-binary
incarcerated people, protections such as these
are lacking at the state level.79 In a 2017 survey of
21 states, Prison Policy Initiative found that only
three states (Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Vermont)
required staff to use preferred pronouns, and only
Vermont required staff to use preferred names.80
Name changes are exceedingly difficult to accomplish
in prison; even post-incarceration, at least 57% of
the LGBTQ+ population live in states with additional
restrictions and requirements regarding name
changes for formerly incarcerated people.81

an already vulnerable population. The
drivers

of

the

over-incarceration

of

LGBTQ+ people—poverty, homelessness,
discrimination, social stigmatization, and
violence—are systemic issues that should
be effectively and equitably addressed
through investments in inclusive social
services, not compounded by incarceration.

Recommended Reforms
• Allow incarcerated trans, non-binary, and
intersex people to choose whether to be housed
and searched according to their gender identity.
If security concerns are found to contradict an
individual’s preferred housing placement or
search preference, senior management must
certify in writing the specific and articulable
basis why the individual’s housing or search
preferences cannot be accomodated. This
written statement must be provided to the
incarcerated person and they must also be
provided a meaningful opportunity to object.82
• Allow trans, non-binary, and intersex people
to choose whether to be placed in transitional
housing that matches their gender identity and
expand re-entry programs to address specific
challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people leaving
prison.

13

ENDNOTES

Meyer et al. (2017), see note 1; Anderson, L., File, T., Marshall, J., McElrath, K., & Sherer, Z. (2021). New household
pulse survey data reveals differences between LGBT and
non-LGBT respondents during COVID-19 pandemic. United
States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/
stories/2021/11/census-bureau-survey-explores-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity.html

5

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are incarcerated at
three times the rate of the general population: Meyer, I.
H., Flores, A. R., Stemple, L., Romero, A. P., Wilson, B. D.
M., & Herman, J. L. (2017). Incarceration rates and traits
of sexual minorities in the United States: National inmate survey 2011-2012. AJPH Research, 107(2). https://
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227944/pdf/
AJPH.2016.303576.pdf. The trans population is incarcerated at a rate many times greater than that of the general
population (based on a non-random sample): Grant, J. M.,
Mottet, L. A., & Tanis, J. (2011). Injustice at every turn: A
report of the national transgender discrimination survey.
National Center for Transgender Equality. https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NTDS_Report.pdf

1

6

Meyer et al. (2017), see note 1.

“Trans women’’ refers to people who were assigned
male at birth, but identify as women. Grant et al. (2011),
see note 1.

7

8

Grant et al. (2011), see note 1.

Twenty percent of youth in a survey of seven facilities
identified as LGBTQ+ according to a 2014 study: Center
for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2. Applying this percentage to the 36,479 youth in correctional
facilities in 2019 results in an estimate of 7,295. Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2019).
Statistical briefing book: Juveniles in correction. https://
www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/corrections/qa08201.asp?qaDate=2019

9

Center for American Progress, Movement Advancement Project, & Youth First. (2017). Unjust: LGBTQ youth
incarcerated in the juvenile justice system. https://www.
lgbtmap.org/file/lgbtq-incarcerated-youth.pdf; Conron,
K. J. (2020). LGBT youth population in the United States.
UCLA School of Law Williams Institute. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Youth-USPop-Sep-2020.pdf

2

10

Conron (2020), see note 2.

Center for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2;
Hockenberry, S. (2022). Juveniles in residential placement,
2019. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/publications/juveniles-in-residential-placement-2019.pdf
11

We estimate that 62,302 imprisoned men and 27,657
imprisoned women identified as LGB, and 15,817 men
and 18,427 women in jail identified as LGB. Meyer et al.
(2017), see note 1; Carson, E. A. (2021). Prisoners in 2020:
Statistical Tables. US Department of Justice. https://bjs.
ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/p20st.pdf, & Minton, T. D., &
Zeng, Z. (2021). Jail inmates in 2020—Statistical tables.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/
pub/pdf/ji20st.pdf. This analysis excludes those who
identify as having sex with people of the same sex but do
not identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

3

Wilber, S. (2015). A guide to juvenile detention reform:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the juvenile
justice system. Annie E. Casey Foundation. https://assets.
aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-lesbiangaybisexualandtransgenderyouthinjj-2015.pdf. Another source estimates
that 3.2% of incarcerated boys identify as LGBTQ+: Center
for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2.
12

Kruse, M., Kwan, B., Hall, A., & Allen, J. (2020), Kids imprisoned: LGBTQ youth confront inconsistent, unreliable
patterns of incarceration. News 21. https://kidsimprisoned.news21.com/lgbtq-kids-discrimination-justice-system/

13

There are approximately 1,200 trans people in federal prisons: Balsamo, M., & Ibrahim, M. (2021, Sept 17).
Justice Department reviewing policies on transgender
inmates. Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/
religion-crime-prisons-minnesota-illinois-007d87693249
a9831867a5289c09e612. There are at least 4,890 trans
people in state prisons (with data missing from Alabama,
Alaska, Indiana, Tennessee, and Utah): Sosin, K. (2020,
Feb 26). Trans, imprisoned—and trapped. NBC News.
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/transgender-women-are-nearly-always-incarcerated-men-s-putting-many-n1142436

4

Wilson, B., Choi, S. K., Harper, G. W., Lightfoot, M.,
Russel, S. & Meter, I. H. (2020). Homelessness among
LGBT adults in the US. UCLA Williams Institute School of
Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/
lgbt-homelessness-us/
14

Badgett, M. V. L., Choi, S. K., & Wilson, B. (2019). LGBT
poverty in the United States. UCLA Williams Institute
School of Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/lgbt-poverty-us/
15

14

Boyd, C. J., Veliz, P. T., Stephenson, R., Hughes, T. L., &
McCabe, S. E. (2019). Severity of alcohol, tobacco, and
drug use disorders among sexual minority individuals and
their “not sure” counterparts. LGBT Health, 6(1): 15-22.

Transgender Law Center. (n.d.). Trans agenda for liberation: Pillar 5 freedom to thrive. https://transgenderlawcenter.org/trans-agenda-freedom-thrive; See also American
Civil Liberties Union. (n.d.). Is sex work decriminalization
the answer? What the research tells us. https://www.aclu.
org/sites/default/files/field_document/aclu_sex_work_
decrim_research_brief_new.pdf

16

30

Voices of Youth Count. (2017). Missed opportunities:
Youth homelessness in America, national estimates. Chapin Hill at the University of Chicago. https://voicesofyouthcount.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/VoYC-National-Estimates-Brief-Chapin-Hall-2017.pdf
17

18

See Agan, A. Y., Doleac, J. L., & Harvey, A. (2021).
Misdemeanor prosecution. National Bureau of Economic
Research. https://www.nber.org/papers/w28600
31

Wilber (2015), see note 12.

End Racial and Religious Profiling Act, S. 597, 117th
Cong. (2021). https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/597/text
32

Flores, A. R., Langton, L., Meyer, I. H., & Romero, A. P.
(2020). Victimization rates and traits of sexual and gender
minorities in the United States: Results from the National
Crime Victimization Survey, 2017. UCLA School of Law
Williams Institute. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/
press/ncvs-lgbt-violence-press-release/
19

33
National LGBTQ Task Force & The Center for HIV Law &
Policy. (2017). The intersection of sex work and HIV criminalization: An advocate’s toolkit. https://www.thetaskforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Sex-Work-HIVToolkit-FINAL-R2_0.pdf

Fields, S. E. (2020). The elusiveness of self-defense for
the black transgender community. Nevada Law Journal,
Forthcoming, 21(975), 975–995.
20

21

Williams Institute. (n.d.) Judicial education. UCLA
School of Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/programs/judicial-education/
34

Fields (2020), see note 20.

Holden, A. (2019). The gay/trans panic defense: what it
is, and how to end it. American Bar Association. https://
www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/member-features/gay-trans-panic-defense/
22

See S.B. 378, 2022 Sess. (VA 2022). https://lis.virginia.
gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+ful+SB378; On second look
reforms, see Ghandnoosh, N. (2021). A second look at
injustice. The Sentencing Project. https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/a-second-look-at-injustice/
35

Carpenter, L. F., & Marshall, R. B. (2017). Walking while
trans: Profiling of transgender women by law enforcement, and the problem of proof. William & Mary Journal of
Race, Gender, and Social Justice, 24(3), 5–38.
23

Medina, C., Gruberg, S., Mahowald, L., & Santos, T.
(2021). Improving the lives and rights of LGBTQ people in
America: A roadmap for the Biden administration. Center
for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.
org/article/improving-lives-rights-lgbtq-people-america/
36

24
HRC Staff. (2020). Urge the New York State Assembly to
repeal the walking white trans ban and hold police accountable. Human Rights Campaign. https://www.hrc.org/
news/urge-the-new-york-state-assembly-to-repeal-thewalking-while-trans-ban-and

Miller, I. (2019, Nov. 4). Anti-gay prejudice may have
driven jurors to sentence a man to death. His execution is
today. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2019/11/4/20947647/
execution-anti-gay-charles-rhines
37

Urban Justice Center. (n.d.). Loitering for the purposes
of prostitution New York State. https://sexworkersproject.org/downloads/2016/20160930-loitering-prostitution-new-york-state.pdf

25

Brief for the Supreme Court as Amici Curiae, Charles
Russel Rhines v. Darin Young, Warden, South Dakota
State Penitentiary, Capital Case No. 18-8029 U.S. (2019).
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YL_OECCJIPIkuccyam7Ueq6kBopckypJ/view

38

National Center for Lesbian Rights. (2017). The impact
of cash bail on LGBTQ people and people living with HIV.
https://www.nclrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/
LGBTQ-Cash-Bail-Reform-Two-Pager-FINAL.pdf
26

27

L. Egyes (personal communication, March 7, 2022).

28

Meyer et al. (2017), see note 1.

Note that these are only reported rates of victimization,
and actual rates are assumed to be higher. Beck, A. J., &
Berzofsky, M. (2013). Sexual victimization in prisons and
jails reported by inmates, 2011–12. Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/svpjri1112.
pdf
39

29
See Ghandnoosh, N. (2019). The next step: Ending
excessive punishment for violent crimes. The Sentencing
Project. https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/
the-next-step-ending-excessive-punishment-for-violentcrimes/

40

Beck & Berzofsky (2013), see note 39.

Beck, A. J. (2014). Sexual victimization in prisons and
jails reported by inmates, 2011-2012. Bureau of Justice
Statistics. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/svpjri1112_st.pdf
41

15

Beck, A. J., Harrison, P. G., & Guerino, P. (2010), Sexual
victimization in juvenile facilities reported by youth, 200809. Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://www.njjn.org/
uploads/digital-library/resource_1439.pdf
42

57

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2015). The
United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment
of prisoners. https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/Nelson_Mandela_Rules-E-ebook.
pdf
58

See National PREA Resource Center. (n.d.). Prison Rape
Elimination Act. https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/
about/prison-rape-elimination-act
43

The New York State Senate. (2021). Senate passes
‘HALT’ solitary confinement act. https://www.nysenate.
gov/newsroom/press-releases/senate-passes-halt-solitary-confinement-act

59

Smith, B. V. (2008). The prison rape elimination act:
Implementation and unresolved issues. Articles in Law
Reviews & Other Academic Journals. 891. https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1896&context=facsch_lawrev
44

ACLU New Jersey. (2019). Gov. Murphy answers call
for change from advocates and solitary survivors. https://
www.aclu-nj.org/en/press-releases/gov-murphy-signs-isolated-confinement-restriction-act-law

60

What is a PREA Audit?. (n.d.). National Prea Resource
Center. https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/audit/overview

45

Doctors and courts have found that hormone therapy
and gender-affirming surgery can be considered medically
necessary and have recognized that gender dysphoria
is a “legitimate medical condition constituting a ‘serious
medical need.’” Lambda Legal. (n.d.). FAQ: Equal access
to health care. https://www.lambdalegal.org/know-yourrights/article/trans-related-care-faq. See Good & Beal
v. Iowa Department of Human Resources, 18-1158 U.S.
(2019). https://www.aclu-ia.org/sites/default/files/good_
beal_order_sup_ct.pdf
61

American Civil Liberties Union. (n.d.). Know your rights:
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). https://www.
aclu.org/sites/default/files/images/asset_upload_
file79_25805.pdf
46

47

See note 46.

National PREA Resource Center. (n.d.). 115.52 Exhaustion of administrative remedies. https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/standard/115-52

48

See Human Rights Watch. (2009). No equal justice: The
Prison Litigation Reform Act in the United States. https://
www.hrw.org/report/2009/06/16/no-equal-justice/prison-litigation-reform-act-united-states
49

50

See Vera Institute of Justice. (2021). Why are people
sent to solitary confinement? The reasons might surprise
you. https://www.vera.org/downloads/publications/whyare-people-sent-to-solitary-confinement.pdf

Lydon et al. (2015), see note 53.

Lydon et al. (2015), see note 53.

Reisner, S. L., Bailey, Z., & Sevelius, J. (2014). Racial/
ethnic disparities in history of incarceration, experiences
of victimization, and associated health indicators among
transgender women in the U.S. Women & health, 54(8),
750–767.
66

American Civil Liberties Union. (2014). Briefing paper:
The dangerous overuse of solitary confinement in the United States. https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/stop_solitary_briefing_paper_updated_august_2014.
pdf
Lydon, J., Carrington, K., Low, H., Miller, R., & Yazdy, M.
(2015). Coming out of concrete closets: A report on Black
& Pink’s national LGBTQ prisoner survey. Black & Pink.
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/857027_fcd066f0c450418b95a18ab34647bd15.pdf
53

67

Sosin (2020), see note 4.

68

Center for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2.

69

Wilber (2015), see note 12.

70
Freedom for All Americans. Legislative tracker: Youth
healthcare bans. (2022). https://freedomforallamericans.
org/legislative-tracker/medical-care-bans/

Beck, A. J. (2015). Use of restrictive housing in US
prisons and jails, 2011-2012. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/urhuspj1112.pdf
54

Lydon et al. (2015), see note 53.

63

65

52

56

Sosin (2020), see note 4.

ACLU Illinois. (n.d.) Transgender prisoners sue the
Illinois Department of Corrections for inadequate medical
treatment. https://www.aclu-il.org/en/transgender-prisoners-sue-illinois-department-corrections-inadequate-medical-treatment

51

Lydon et al. (2015), see note 53.

62

64

Smith (2008), see note 44.

55

Center for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2.

H.B. 675, 2022 Reg. Sess. (Ida. 2022). https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2022/legislation/h0675/
71

16

See Fair and Just Prosecution. (2021). Joint statement
from elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders
condemning the criminalization of transgender people and
gender-affirming healthcare. https://fairandjustprosecution.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/FJP-Trans-Criminalization-Joint-Statement.pdf
72

Jenness, V., Sexton, L., & Sumner, J. (2019). Sexual victimization against transgender women in prison: Consent
and coercion in context. Criminology, 2019(57), 603–631.

73

Federal Bureau of Prisons. Transgender offender manual. (2022). https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5200-08cn-1.pdf

74

75

Center for American Progress, et al. (2017), see note 2.

National Center for Transgender Equality. (n.d.). LGBTQ
people behind bars: A guide to understanding the issues
facing transgender prisoners and their legal rights. https://
transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/
TransgenderPeopleBehindBars.pdf
76

77

Lydon et al. (2015), see note 53.

Stahl, A. (2021, December 3). Strip searches, trauma,
isolation: Trans men describe life behind bars. NBC News.
https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-news/stripsearches-trauma-isolation-trans-men-describe-life-barsrcna6490
78

79

See note 74.

80
Oberholtzer, E. (2017). The dismal state of transgender
incarceration policies. Prison Policy Initiative. https://
www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/11/08/transgender/

Center for American Progress & Movement Advancement Project. (2016). Unjust: How the criminal justice
system fails transgender people. https://www.lgbtmap.
org/file/lgbt-criminal-justice-trans.pdf
81

Thornton, T. (2020). Governor Newsom signs Senate
Bill 132 to respect gender identity during incarceration.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/insidecdcr/2020/09/29/governor-newsom-signs-senate-bill-132-to-respect-gender-identity-during-incarceration/
82

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