Prison Reform Activists to Discuss Issues of LGBT Inmates on May 18

Seminar celebrates second edition of UCR scholar’s book “Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex”

captive genders jacket coverRIVERSIDE, Calif. – Transgendered and queer people – particularly those of color – are overrepresented in U.S. prisons, and many of those inmates will spend much of their lives behind bars, a developing body of research suggests.

Two activists in the growing field of “trans studies” and prison abolition will discuss what drives LGBT individuals into the prison system and what keeps them there in a seminar on May 18 at the University of California, Riverside.

“CeCe McDonald & Reina Gossett: On Prisons, Representation, and Trans Politics at the Edges of Institutionalization” begins at 7 p.m. in HUB 302.  It is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be obtained at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

The event celebrates the release of the second edition of “Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex” (AK Press, October  2015), co-edited by Eric Stanley, UCR assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies, and Nat Smith, a member of Trans/gender Variant in Prison Committee and an organizer with Critical Resistance.

CeCe McDonald, who wrote the forward for the second edition, served 19 months for second-degree manslaughter after defending herself against a racist, transphobic assault in Minneapolis in a case that made national headlines. Since her release in January 2014 she has become a leading LGBT activist for prison abolition and racial justice.

Reina Gossett, who is featured in a chapter of “Captive Genders,” is an activist, writer, artist, and the 2014-2016 activist-in-residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women.

UCR’s Stanley, who teaches a course on prisons, said he and Nat Smith began working on “Captive Genders” 10 years ago. The book includes chapters written by activists, academics and former inmates, with topics ranging from the impact of juvenile court on queer and transgender youth to the impact of incarcerating transgender individuals in prisons that do not conform to their gender identity and dismantling what several authors call the prison industrial complex.

“I’ve been a prison activist for many years, and there wasn’t a book centered on gender and sexuality,” Stanley explained. “Trans and queer people of color are hyper-represented in the system. That’s not surprising because many LGBT youth are kicked out of the house at a young age. They do what it takes to survive. They start being profiled, and they end up in prison. We hope that our book gets people to think critically about the entire system of incarceration.”

Stanley and Smith have turned profits from the sale of “Captive Genders” over to nonprofits to purchase and send copies of the book to LGBT inmates across the country. More than 500 copies have been delivered to date.

“CeCe McDonald & Reina Gossett: On Prisons, Representation, and Trans Politics at the Edges of Institutionalization” is sponsored by the UC Riverside LGBT Resource Center, Asterisk of UCR, Women’s Resource Center, Center for Ideas and Society, Queer Studies, Office of Diversity, Excellence and Equity, and the departments of Media and Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages, and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Megan Rush
Tel: (951) 827-2267

Eric Stanley
Tel: (951) 827-6427

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