Disrupting criminal legal system involvement among young transgender women: A mixed-methods study examining the role of gender-based violence, discrimination, and social support

The overall aim of my research is to prevent criminal legal system involvement and gender-based violence and improve physical and mental health outcomes among LGBTQIA+ youth. Currently, my work focuses on young transgender women’s (YTW) interactions with the criminal legal system, as this group is over-represented in U.S. detention centers, jails and prisons. For example, 16% of respondents to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported being incarcerated in their lifetime; these rates are even higher for transgender women of color. However, to date, young transgender women’s life course pathways into the criminal legal system are understudied and undertheorized. To help address this need, I conducted a two-phase mixed-methods study to better understand transgender women’s life course pathways into the criminal legal system.

My dissertation findings suggest a complex web of experiences of gender-based violence, racism, transphobia, and structural exclusion that contribute to high levels of criminal legal system involvement among young transgender women. My research also highlights the strategies young transgender women employ to resist state violence.

Peer-reviewed publications:

Hereth, J., & Bouris, A. (2020). From smart decarceration to abolition: Centering the experiences of LGBTQ youth within the criminal legal system. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work.

Hereth, J., Pardee, D. J., & Reisner, S. (2019). Sexual orientation and gender identity development among young adult trans men sexually active with cisgender men: “I had completely ignored my sexuality, I was like, that’s for a different time to figure out.” Culture, Health and Sexuality.

Garthe, R. C., Hidalgo, M. A., Hereth, J., Garofalo, R., Reisner, S. L., Mimiaga, M. J., & Kuhns, L. (2018). Prevalence and risk correlates of intimate partner violence among a multi-site cohort of young transgender women. LGBT Health, 5(6), 333-340.

Brewster, S., & Hereth, J. (2013). Chain Reaction: A youth-driven, multimedia storytelling project promoting alternatives to calling the police. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 29(2). [For more information about this participatory action research project, please visit the Chain Reaction website.]

Hereth, J., Kaba, M., Meiners, E., & Wallace, L. (2012). Restorative justice is not enough; School-based interventions in the carceral state. In S. Bahena, N. Cooc, R. Currie-Rubin, P. Kuttner, and M. Ng (Eds.), Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline (pp. 240-264). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Review.