Trans prisoners – some facts


In the US, 5% of adults have been in prison, compared to 16% of trans people and 21% of trans women.

Discrimination against trans people make them at risk of economic insecurity:

● Unemployment is twice the rate of the general population (4 times for Black trans people)

● Trans people are 4 times more likely to have a household income under $10,000 per year than the population as a whole

● Homelessness:  19% have experienced it, of which 29% have been turned away from a shelter

● Reliance on survival economies: 11% of trans people have engaged in sex work (44% of Black trans people, 33% of Latino trans people)..

● This, combined with police profiling and the targeting of trans people, particularly trans women of colour, results in high rates of criminalisation.


● Over three-quarters of trans people in men’s prisons identify as women. Trans people are almost always placed in facilities based on their external anatomy or their birth certificates, despite US Dept 2016 guidelines that prohibit prisons from doing so.

● 85% of LGBT prisoners had been in solitary confinement.

● Health care like hormone therapy and surgery are largely denied. In the US, only two prisons have a physician providing competent care for trans people.

● In the US, some states prohibit trans prisoners to change their names or to access cosmetics and clothing.  One trans woman in a male prison got 30 days in solitary for possessing a bra.

In the UK, Tara Hudson was moved to a women prison following a public campaign in 2015


Trans women placed in male prisons are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non trans prisoners.

In US civilian prisons:

● 16.7% of trans prisoners have been assaulted by staff (2.4% for all prisoners).

● 24.1% of trans prisoners have been assaulted by another inmate (2.0% for all prisoners).

This violence is a continuation of trans people’s civilian life.

● In the US, 72 percent of victims of anti-LGBT homicide were transgender women

● 38% of trans people of colour who have had contact with the police have experienced harassment).(22% of trans people in general).


There are no statistics on the rate of suicide in prisons, but a UK study of trans people under 26 found that

● 48% have attempted suicide

● 59% have at least considered doing so.

By comparison, about 6% of all 16-24-year-olds say they have attempted suicide.

Placement in solitary confinement has documented negative effects on prisoners, including physical and mental health risks, such as higher risk of suicide attempts.

Trans woman ex army analyst Chelsea Manning who blew the whistle on US war crimes attempted suicide in a military jail last July. After Chelsea went on hunger strike, the U.S. military finally agreed to provide her the treatment she needs for her gender dysphoria, a victory that should benefit many trans prisoners.


Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails Transgender People, U.S by Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project (MAP), May 2016

Nearly half of young transgender people have attempted suicide – UK survey Patrick Strudwick, The Guardian, 19 Nov 2014