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Although not the first time LGBTQ folks fought back against police authority, the Stonewall Riots or Stonewall Rebellion, is commonly referred to as the genesis of the LGBTQ Pride movement in the United States. A lesser-known fact is that these riots were led by the transgender community—a community which today faces unheard of rates of violence, especially transgender women of color. Transgender women of color are murdered in the United States at rates that continue to increase. This Essay will explore unprecedented violence against the transgender community and the LGBTQ+ community at large, especially as it relates to the action and inaction of the criminal legal system. In an attempt to move beyond mainstream activism and research, this Essay will examine queer criminology, which explores the experiences of the LGBTQ+ population as victims, offenders, and professionals in the criminal legal system both in the United States and abroad.
In couching this discussion within the theoretical and practical application of queer criminology, this Essay will highlight the marginalization of LGBTQ+ folks and explore the impact that intersectionality has on the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community with special attention on law enforcement. For example, queer criminology studies the persistent distrust that the LGBTQ+ community has of police5 as well as the experiences of LGBTQ+ identified police officers and other agents within the criminal legal system. Further, as the current Administration continues to roll back the rights and liberties of the LGBTQ+ community, there must be a focus on how past and present policies continue to negatively impact LGBTQ+ people at the micro and macro levels. This Essay will also pay special attention to LGBTQ+ youth and transgender people of color.
Carrie L. Buist*
*Assistant Professor, Grand Valley State University School of Criminal Justice.