The justice system is not safe for gender diversity

Content Disclaimer: This document describes violence against transgender people, including sexual violence.

An early Australian study found that transgender and gender diverse people face systemic abuse in Victoria’s criminal justice system.

Published in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, the 42-participant study shows that transgender and gender-diverse people experienced sexual and physical violence, harassment, abuse and neglect across all settings. areas of the criminal justice system, particularly in prisons.

The perpetrators are police officers, lawyers, judges, prison officers and other prisoners.

Lead author Dr. Matthew Mitchell, of La Trobe University’s Department of Social Inquiry, said so far little has been documented about transgender and gender-diverse people’s experiences with the justice system. criminal in Australia.

“We were appalled to find that transgender and gender diverse people experience intense discrimination and abuse within the Victorian criminal justice system,” Dr Mitchell said.

“Our findings underscore that changes in criminal justice policy and practice are urgently needed. Transgender and gender diverse people are deeply harmed by the system, and the government must respond. »

The study highlights that transgender and gender-diverse people are particularly vulnerable in prisons.

“Several participants told us that they had been beaten, raped and verbally abused in prisons by other prisoners and prison staff,” Dr Mitchell said.

The participants, who must remain anonymous for ethical reasons, told the researchers that prison staff and police generally ignore or minimize harassment and assault.

“Many were told to ‘get over it’ when reporting,” Dr Mitchell said.

The study also found that transgender and gender-diverse professionals working in the criminal justice system face discrimination and abuse.

For example, a transgender lawyer in the study said she was called male by a Federal Court judge while sitting on the Court of Appeals in a skirt, blouse, jacket and heels.

She was also told by a magistrate that “it takes more than surgery to make a woman”.

“Policy makers and practitioners need to take these findings seriously.

While governments are currently making significant LGBTIQ-related reforms, current measures do not and do not promise to protect transgender and gender-diverse people from the criminal justice system. There is still a lot to do,” said Dr Mitchell.

This study was a collaboration between academics, lawyers, community organizations and advocates.

Study authors;

Dr. Matthew Mitchell, La Trobe University

Adrien McCrory, Australian Catholic University

Isabelle Skaburskis, Doogue + George Lawyers

Brenda Appleton, transgender Victoria

Access the study

Criminalizing Gender Diversity: Transgender and Gender Diverse People’s Experiences with Victoria’s Criminal Justice System

International Review of Crime, Justice and Social Democracy

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