Federal Survey: 40% of Transgender Prisoners Are Sexually Abused Each Year

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) this week reported national statistics for the first time on sexual abuse of transgender people in US prisons and jails. BJS estimates there were over 3,200 transgender people in US prisons nationwide in 2011-12, of whom 39.9% reported sexual assault or abuse in the last year by either another prisoner or staff. BJS also estimated there were over 1,700 transgender people in US jails in 2011-12, of whom 26.8% reported sexual assault or abuse in the last year. Transgender prisoners were victimized at rates nearly ten times those for prisoners in general (4% in prisons and 3.2% in jails).

The findings are similar to previously released research, including a California study finding that of transgender women held in men’s prisons, 59% had ever been sexually assaulted by another prisoner. While BJS did not break down transgender statistics by gender or type of facility, most prisons and jails continue to house essentially all transgender women with men despite 2012 federal rules calling for individualized placements. Previously released statistics from the same surveys found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual prisoners also face very higher rates of sexual assault behind bars—though the transgender rates are the highest by far.

Prison Inmate

These stark federal findings come as NCTE joined over 100 organizations this week in a letter urging the President to stop the practice of routinely holding LGBT immigrants in detention centers pending deportation hearings. As recently as last month, Department of Homeland Security policy has recognized that certain groups generally should not be held in detention centers—which often include county jails and private corporate prisons—due to their vulnerability. This latest data on abuse rates for transgender prisoners underscores that LGBT immigrants should be considered one of these groups.

Earlier in 2014, NCTE published an advocacy guide for reforming state and local prison policies toward LGBT people and reducing LGBT incarceration.


10 Responses to Federal Survey: 40% of Transgender Prisoners Are Sexually Abused Each Year

  1. George Davis says:

    Horrible. Thanks for publishing this, though I can’t push the “like” button.

  2. Sir Vertigo says:

    Hello I don’t know who to contact at NCTE about this so I’m going to post this here and pray someone actually reads these comments…

    I am posting this in efforts to help this young man lift his spirits through this troublesome situation. For those that may want to help or just send Ky some kind words there is contact information within the blog. As I totally understand how it is to be locked up with no love and support. Ky is a Trans male in women’s prison. If any of you followed the CC McDonald case this is something very similar with much less press. However this is something that transmen and women deal with everyday in silence for the most part. As you read his story you will understand just how problematic things are for Trans individuals in the legal system.

    ” Hello every one, I’m Pinky, and this is my boyfriend Ky. I’m posting for him because he is currently serving time in a Ga women’s prison for Involuntary Manslaughter. See, Ky was attack and assaulted, and in defending himself, he killed his attacker. He now suffers daily abuse as a black trans man stuck in the south Ga. legal system. I am on a mission to spread the word about the abuse of trans inmates and the injustices they suffer by spreading his story. I have recently started filming our video visits and adding them to his blog. Please check us out. be blessed~ Pink


    Thank you all in advance

    We fought to get CC home, please do not let Kyle go unheard and unnoticed. He fought for his life once alone, please let’s not leave him to fight alone again.

  3. […] are vulnerable to violence and sexual assault when incarcerated with males. It is estimated that  40% of trans folks are sexually abused in prison. There is a legal struggle that adds complexities to inmate life that spillover to their families. […]

  4. […] prisons are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than in the general population, with 40% of transgender prisoners being abused each […]

  5. […] On the governmental side, there is a lot to be done. As many trans people are disowned by family and friends and therefore cut off from the formal economy, they often end up in street markets, such as sex work or drug dealing, in order to make ends meet – furthering the cycle of marginalization. What’s worse is that in many areas of the world, these acts are criminalized – and so trans people are pushed out of their communities onto the street, and then swept off the street into prison. To make matters worse still, almost every justice system places trans people in binarist prisons that do not correspond with their gender identities. They are classified by sex through strip searches (a perverse invasion of individual freedom) and, once behind bars, they are at extremely high risk of rape and violence from both fellow inmates and correctional offic… […]

  6. […] If incarcerated, you are at a lower risk for sexual assault and violence (40% of transgender prisoners are sexually abused every year), and will be sent to a prison that houses people of your […]

  7. […] If incarcerated, you are at a lower risk for sexual assault and violence (40% of transgender prisoners are sexually abused every year), and will be sent to a prison that houses people of your […]

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