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Experiences of Trans Scholars in Criminology and Criminal Justice



Trans individuals experience disproportionately high rates of victimization, discrimination and disparate treatment by the criminal processing system, as well as misrepresentation by the media. The importance and validity of studying transgender people’s experiences in the criminal processing system is beginning to be highlighted in criminology and criminal justice (CCJ), while the experiences of trans academics—who are among those leading the push toward the amplification of this line of research—remain largely unexplored. The authors, four transmasculine scholars in CCJ, draw from auto-ethnographic methods to shed light on the experiences of trans scholars within the academy and, in particular, within CCJ. We highlight how being trans has affected our experiences in various capacities as academics. We conclude by presenting suggestions for transgender scholars and their cisgender colleague and administrator allies.
Critical Criminology
1 3
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal
AllynWalker1 · JaceValcore2 · BrodieEvans3 · AshStephens4
Accepted: 11 February 2021
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. part of Springer Nature 2021
Trans individuals experience disproportionately high rates of victimization, discrimination
and disparate treatment by the criminal processing system, as well as misrepresentation by
the media. The importance and validity of studying transgender people’s experiences in
the criminal processing system is beginning to be highlighted in criminology and crimi-
nal justice (CCJ), while the experiences of trans academics—who are among those lead-
ing the push toward the amplification of this line of research—remain largely unexplored.
The authors, four transmasculine scholars in CCJ, draw from auto-ethnographic methods
to shed light on the experiences of trans scholars within the academy and, in particular,
within CCJ. We highlight how being trans has affected our experiences in various capac-
ities as academics. We conclude by presenting suggestions for transgender scholars and
their cisgender colleague and administrator allies.
Academia can often be an unwelcome domain for trans1 people. In 2018, fifty-four trans-
exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), based in the United Kingdom and working in aca-
demia, wrote a letter to The Guardian complaining of campus protests over their anti-trans
work. Their letter also challenged proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004
which would have allowed transgender people to change their gender marker on official
documents without needing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a physician (Stock etal.
2018). In Australia, controversy occurred in 2019, when the dean of a law school compared
transgender children to those with an eating disorder. In response, thirty-eight Australian
* Allyn Walker
1 Batten Arts andLetters #6004, Old Dominion University, 4401 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk,
VA23529, USA
2 University ofHouston-Downtown, Houston, TX, USA
3 Queensland University ofTechnology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
4 University ofIllinois atChicago, Chicago, IL, USA
1 Throughout this article, we use “transgender” and “trans” interchangeably to indicate both binary and
nonbinary individuals whose gender does not match the one they were assigned at birth.
A.Walker et al.
1 3
academics signed a petition in support of transgender students on campus (Smee 2019).
In the United States (US), headlines were made in 2018 when a professor at a Midwestern
university sued after being reprimanded following his refusal to use a trans student’s pro-
nouns (McClanahan 2018).
No scholarship to date has specifically discussed trans scholars in the fields of criminal
justice and criminology (CCJ). Such scholarship is necessary, in part, because trans schol-
ars frequently produce research about trans individuals in the criminal justice system. Trans
scholars working in these fields also teach students who will have careers in the criminal
justice system, which is notable because CCJ programs have been found to have the most
strongly anti-LGBTQ2 students of any social science discipline (Cannon 2005). Students
who enter law enforcement and corrections will impact trans individuals who experience
criminalization and victimization. Transgender scholars in CCJ may be the first trans peo-
ple these students will meet and our interactions with them, the lessons we teach them and
the scholarship we produce could determine how these students interact with trans people,
whose lives are disproportionately affected by the criminal processing system.3
While academia and the public sphere continually debate about the rights of transgender
people, trans individuals, themselves, are rarely invited into the conversation; when they
are invited, it is often only to have their identities questioned or criticized. Trans academ-
ics’ experiences are therefore seldom heard. This article, written by a group of transmascu-
line and nonbinary scholars who work in CCJ, is about our own experiences in academia
and how our trans statuses transect our academic lives. We begin by exploring relevant
scholarship about issues that trans people face when navigating employment and the
criminal processing system. We then engage in autoethnographic work to highlight how
being transgender has affected our experiences on the job market, as well as our scholar-
ship, teaching and interactions with colleagues. We conclude by presenting a series of sug-
gestions for other transgender academics, as well as suggestions for scholars who want to
become better allies to their trans colleagues.
Employment Issues Among Trans Populations
Trans individuals in and out of academia face numerous barriers and forms of discrimina-
tion in the workplace that negatively impact employment status and career development.
While empirical research is limited, interviews and surveys have revealed that they experi-
ence harassment, micro aggressions, overt and aggressive policing of binary and patriar-
chal gender norms, personal threats to safety, and stigma that can be joined with and com-
pounded by intersectional prejudices around class, disability, race, sexual orientation, and
other minoritized statuses (Dispenza etal. 2012; Mizock etal. 2018). Employers who lack
up-to-date, inclusive policies and jurisdictions without employment protections for trans
employees increase the chances that a trans individual will be demoted, fired, refused a job,
or prevented from undergoing gender affirmation processes (transition) because of both
2 Throughout this article, we use “LGBTQIA + ” to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, inter-
sex, asexual and other marginalized identities related to sexuality and/or gender modality. Occasionally,
however, we switch to other acronyms (e.g., LGBTQ) when discussing scholarship or organizations focused
on a specific subset of these identities.
3 We use the phrase, “criminal processing system,” rather than “criminal justice system,” to convey the lack
of justice in our legal system—a system designed to punish those we label “criminal” rather than heal and
transform communities.
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
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overt and covert forms of discrimination and transphobia (Mizock etal. 2018; Phoenix and
Ghul 2016). According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, produced by the National
Center for Transgender Equality (http://www.ustra nssur, which had 27,715 trans
adult respondents representing all fifty states, 29% of trans adults are living in poverty and
15% of them are unemployed (James etal. 2016). Many (16%) reported that they had lost a
job because of their gender identity or expression, and 27% reported being denied a promo-
tion, fired, or not hired within the previous year. Nearlyone in four reported mistreatment
at work (23%) and 15% had experienced verbal harassment, physical attacks and/or sexual
assault at work because of their gender identity or expression (James etal. 2016).
For trans people who wish to work in academia, gaining the education needed to do so
can be a challenge in itself. A study of LGBTQ undergraduate students found that trans
students have the most negative perceptions of campus climate, classroom climate, and
curriculum inclusivity, probably because they experience more harassment than their cis-
gender queer peers (Garvey and Rankin 2015). Goldberg, Kuvalanka and dickey (2019)
discovered that transgender and nonbinary graduate students experience frequent and
sometimes deliberate misgendering that takes a mental and emotional toll, especially when
it comes from faculty members who proclaim to be allies or mentors who must be relied on
for career success. Catalano (2015) learned that transmasculine and nonbinary students are
subject to additional pressures on campus, such as pressure to appear stereotypically mas-
culine, when that may not be their goal. Many trans graduate students conclude that efforts
to correct faculty or to educate them about trans identities are simply not worth it and they
choose to preserve their emotional energy in order to survive graduate school, rather than
defend their identities (Goldberg, Kuvalanka and dickey 2019).
Tierney (1993) wrote in reference to LGBQ scholars that hiding parts of themselves
requires enormous energy that detracts from their work and this invisibility only reinforces
prejudice. Today, many trans scholars have access to medical and mental health care that
allows them to transition and live genuine, full lives, which was nearly impossible in prior
generations. But to Tierney’s (1993) point, the costs of being visible or transitioning in the
workplace can also be high. Notably, in 2020, in Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S.__
(2020), the Supreme Court of the United States held that firing an individual employee
merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (see
also Totenberg 2020). While this landmark decision declared that Title VII of the Civil
Rights Actof 1964protects employees against discrimination because of theirsexual ori-
entation or gender identity, research has yet to show whether andto what degree this has
worked to make transgender people feel secure in their positions. Importantly, the job mar-
ket for tenure-track positions continues to shrink across the board. This means that in addi-
tion to securing employment with the potential of security, trans academics have to worry
about clothing, language, pronouns, style and other possible indicators of trans identity that
potential employers or search committee members may view as disqualifications. Upon
obtaining a position, transgender people working in higher education face challenges with
having their names and pronouns accepted, lack of access to trans-affirming health care,
and pressure to conform to gender norms, among others (Jourian, Simmons and Devaney
Trans People andtheCriminal Processing System
As noted above, trans academics working in CCJ will often be the first (out) trans people
that students in these majors will meet. This is of critical importance as many of these
A.Walker et al.
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students will encounter trans people in their current or future roles in law enforcement,
court systems or correctional facilities. Across the globe, there is evidence that transgender
people face disproportionately high rates of victimization. Trans people are subjected to
social policing of their gender identities, resulting in high rates of violence that include
verbal abuse, bullying, sexual assault and homicide (Lombardi etal. 2002; Stotzer 2009;
Testa etal. 2012; Walker etal. 2018). Rates of violence against trans people are likely even
higher than those reported due to fear of law enforcement among trans communities (Buist
and Stone 2014) and a lack of data collection by governmental agencies regarding gender
identity (Stotzer 2014).
In addition to disproportional victimization rates, transgender people are more likely
than their cisgender counterparts to face criminal sanctions for going about their daily
lives. Within parts of the US and globally, transgender people risk arrest for simply using
the bathroom that corresponds with their gender (e.g., Movement Advancement Project
2016) or for carrying condoms (Wurth etal. 2013). Because economic inequality remains
an issue for transgender people, some have to participate in underground economies to sur-
vive. Trans and nonbinary immigrants are also vulnerable to anti-immigrant bias and pro-
filing, as anti-immigration systems merge with criminal processing systems (Gehi 2012).
Merely pointing out that transgender people are more likely to experience violence and
be represented in the criminal processing system is insufficient: any discussion of transpho-
bic violence must include a discussion of how intersectional identities make some trans
groups more vulnerable than others. Serano (2007) has coined the term “transmisogyny”
to demonstrate that transphobia combines with misogyny to make transgender women par-
ticularly vulnerable. Bettcher (2007) has argued that transphobic criminalization based on
gender identity is structurally tied to racism within modern society. Those who are most
likely to be victimized and criminalized are Black transgender people and other trans peo-
ple of color—and within these groups, trans women and transfeminine individuals (John-
son 2013; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 2011). Trudy (2014) has created the term
“transmisogynoir” to combine “transmisogyny” and the term “misogynoir” (itself coined
by Bailey (2010)) to note the multiple oppressions that come into play when transpho-
bia, misogyny and anti-Blackness intersect in the lives of Black trans women. Transgen-
der immigrants of color are most at risk of criminalization among trans immigrants (Gehi
2012). Black trans women are more likely to be suspected of and arrested for sex work than
other trans people (Amnesty International 2020); simultaneously, the vast majority of trans
people murdered within the past several years have been Black and Latinx trans women
(Trans Respect Versus Transphobia Worldwide 2019; Wareham 2019).
Given the high rates of criminalization and victimization experienced by trans individu-
als, it benefits both students in CCJ, as well as the trans people who will encounter them
within the criminal processing system, to have trans faculty teaching and producing schol-
arship. Therefore, the experiences of trans scholars in these fields must be considered.
The Current Study
Two of the authors of this study originally conceptualized an interview-based study of
trans CCJ scholars. We engaged in purposeful sampling recruitment (Bernard 2018) by
reaching out to our networks via the Queer CCJ listserv, which connects queer CCJ schol-
ars and scholars studying queer CCJ-related work. When recruitment efforts yielded only
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
two participants, however, we decided a collaborative effort would be more equitable and
would result in better data. At that point, we decided to switch from conducting interviews
to using autoethnographic methods.4
Autoethnographic methods were first conceived to study culture by those who exist
within that culture (Hayano 1979). As noted by Ellingson and Ellis (2008: 449), however,
as time progressed, “the meanings and applications of autoethnography have evolved in a
manner that makes precise definition difficult.” Despite this challenge, autoethnographic
methods are generally employed to use the author’s or authors’ own experiences as data to
be analyzed (Ellis and Bochner 2000). Examples of autoethnography among criminologists
tend to focus on the researcher’s experiences as individuals being punished by the criminal
processing system (e.g., Tietjen, Burnett, & Jessie 2020; Walker 2016; for a review, see
Newbold etal. 2014), teaching or completing research within penal institutions (e.g., Key
and May 2018; Sutton 2011), or as researchers living amongst populations targeted by the
criminal processing system (see Ferrell and Hamm 1998).
Using autoethnographic methods to discuss experiences within the academy may be an
unusual task for criminologists. Ferrell (2012: 220) writes that, “For autoethnographers
immersed in new or marginal settings, the disjunction between their status as an academic
and their status in this new setting can likewise be jarring—and can likewise force open a
space in which to examine critically both sorts of status and their larger meanings.” For the
authors of this article, our status as academics who work within CCJ has perhaps created a
disjunction of sorts with our status as transgender individuals. Therefore, we use the setting
of academia to examine both statuses, engaging in autoethnographic work in order to begin
a conversation about experiences common to trans scholars in CCJ, challenges they may
encounter in academia, and ways in which colleagues, departments, and universities can
support them as they navigate their careers.
The Authors
While we have had different experiences, we share the fact that we are transmasculine
and/or nonbinary5 early-career scholars working in CCJ. Allyn (they/them) is a white,6
queer, nonbinary trans person living and working in the southeastern region of the US. Ash
(they/them and he/him pronouns)7 is a Black queer academic and organizer in the Mid-
western part of the US. Brodie (he/him and they/them pronouns) is a white, bisexual, trans
and sex diverse, educator and activist working in academia and within the criminal pro-
cessing system in Australia. Brodie navigates his working life as a man, while also using
4 Upon switching to an autoethnographic study, we started by using the interview-based data we had
assembled originally to create a framework and then each of us added our own experiences. Author order
was agreed upon based on individual time spent on this article.
5 We use these terms to group together the four authors, who identify more toward the “center” or the
“masculine end” of the gender spectrum. We also use this term to denote that our experiences are different
from transfeminine individuals, who are subject to transmisogyny on top of transphobia.
6 Throughout this article, we capitalize “Black,” but not “white,” following the example of BIPOC (Black,
Indigenous and people of color) communities. This choice is, in part, to recognize a shared history of dis-
crimination experienced by Black individuals, which is not shared by white people.
7 While different people’s usage of multiple pronouns can vary, Ash and Brodie use different pronouns
throughout this article to refer to themselves. As they are comfortable with both pronouns and they use
them interchangeably.
A.Walker et al.
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nonbinary as a descriptor among family and friends. Jace (he/him) is a white, heterosexual,
trans man working and teaching in the southern US.
We are all located in the Global North, i.e., in advanced, industrialized, colonizing
countries (Dados and Connell 2012), with similar rights regimes for transgender and non-
binary individuals. Currently in the US, access to employment, gender-affirming health
care, housing protections and the ability to obtain proper identification documents varies
from state to state and even agency to agency (Spade 2015). This means decisions about
where to study and work involve additional legal concerns about our ability to be recog-
nized and treated according to our true genders. The situation in Australia is similar, with
rights that vary by region.
Both countries have national health-care programs that include coverage for some
“medically necessary” transition-related care, but private health insurance coverage is not
guaranteed and typically involves significant out of pocket expenses. Properly skilled and
gender-affirming physicians and surgeons are scant; 33% of respondents to the 2015 U.S.
Transgender Survey indicated they had been mistreated or abused by health-care providers
within the previous year (James etal. 2016). Indeed, both Jace and Brodie had to pay out
of pocket for gender-affirming chest surgery—expenses which were in line with Jones and
colleagues’ (2015) findings that showed most Australian trans men accessing this surgery
invest approximately A$10,000. Available insurance coverage in the US requires a psychi-
atric diagnosis of gender dysphoria—another hindrance that pathologizes trans identity—
and which some, such as Jace, avoid by paying out of pocket for hormones. In addition,
access to transition-related care is particularly challenging for those living in Australia’s
remote areas and Aboriginal communities (Stephen 2018). In 2018, the situation appeared
to be improving for Australian young people, as court approval was no longer required
to access trans-related surgeries (see Kelman and Autar 2018; Telfer, Tollit and Feldman
2015), while in 2020, in the US, the state of South Dakota debated a bill that would crimi-
nalize the provision of gender-affirming health care for trans youth (National Center for
Transgender Equality 2020).
Limitations: AMatter ofPrivilege
While the four of us are transgender, we are also masculine-presenting, have accessed
graduate-level education, and are employed. Three of the four of us are white. Our privi-
leges have allowed us the ability to access employment in universities and a platform on
which we can speak out about issues that trans people encounter in the criminal processing
system. Even writing this article about trans scholars in CCJ is an option available to us
because of our privilege, which has allowed us access into the academy and into the profes-
sional circles of critical criminology and queer criminology.
We also may not represent well other trans individuals who study CCJ: our privilege
has allowed us to come out with feelings of relative safety. Individuals who do not feel safe
enough to come out may have significantly disparate experiences from ours that we are
unable to access for the purposes of this article. The voices and experiences of transfemi-
nine individuals are clearly absent from this article, as none were within our networks at
the time of recruitment. Given that queer criminologists have a strong network, we believe
that the absence of voices and experiences of transfeminine individuals reflects more about
the field of CCJ itself than on our recruitment methods. Criminal justice and criminol-
ogy are conservative and traditionally masculine disciplines in which it may not be safe or
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
comfortable for transfeminine people to be out, potentially keeping them in the closet or
even preventing them from working in the field in the first place.
Before proceeding further, it might be helpful to clarify what we mean by “safe.”
Throughout the remainder of this article, when we speak about our experiences of not feel-
ing “safe” enough to come out in a given academic situation, we are sometimes speaking
about job security and perceived support on campus. Job security is an important compo-
nent of safety as a whole, as financial security has implications for one’s housing, health,
and other aspects of well-being. Our feelings and experiences of physical safety are also
explored and often are impacted by intersecting issues of sexuality and race. We wish to
be clear, however, that we cannot speak to the impacts of outness and visibility on physical
safety for those experiencing transmisogyny, particularly for trans women of color.
Our Experiences inAcademia
Graduate School
Allyn, Brodie, and Ash faced similar challenges navigating the stresses that come with
graduate school and producing their doctoral theses, with the added anxiety of wanting to
start their transition. Although Allyn was entirely out about their sexual orientation during
graduate school, they did not find graduate school to be an environment in which they felt
comfortable coming out as transgender. While they started using they/them pronouns in
their last year of graduate school, they did not discuss this with their professors or advisors.
They did come out over social media and members of their cohort began using their pro-
nouns as a result—although they also never discussed it during school.
Similarly to Allyn, Brodie utilized social media to start coming out as transgender to
members of their cohort. As a current graduate student, Ash began many parts of their
gender-affirming transitions while in graduate school. They very publicly began their tran-
sition process as both a graduate student and as an organizer within local and national com-
munities. Over time, both Brodie and Ash decided to invite only selected members of their
graduate department and university into their transitioning process, focusing on students,
faculty and administrative staff with whom they had built supportive relationships and who
they knew held gender-affirming politics. For Ash, this also involved specific colleagues
who were also supportive of Black students and held anti-racist views. For Brodie, the sup-
port they found within their graduate department alleviated anxiety around whether affirm-
ing their gender would impact their future academic job prospects among their faculty.
Beyond finding emotional support in our graduate programs, we also discovered we
needed help navigating issues of bureaucracy that can be affected by gender and name
changes. For instance, as Ash began to change his name and gender markers on many of his
documents, the selective service requirement form came to his university address. Unsure
of how to address it, Ash reached out to other trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming
students for guidance. LGBTQIA + graduate students and faculty at Ash’s university have
pushed the administration to support trans students and to rally behind calls for the admin-
istration to fix bureaucratic issues with name and gender marker changes, trans health care,
access to gender-affirming surgeries and procedures, and gender-affirming mental health
care that is available to all students receiving health care from their university.
The experiences trans students face in graduate school, particularly around transition-
ing on campus, are impacted greatly by those who have come before, what resources have
been made available, what support networks have been established, and what bureaucratic
A.Walker et al.
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hurdles are in place—particularly if gender-neutral options are not available. Though Ash
has been able to develop a support team in their current graduate experience, similar to
Brodie in his former graduate school, these teams do not represent the entire culture of
their universities. A lack of full-time academic scholars who are transgender can have an
impact on whether one feels “this is possible”—representation matters. And when repre-
sentation is missing, support to become that representation is vital.
Job Market
Allyn has successfully gone on the market in multiple years. Allyn began using they/them
pronouns and identifying as nonbinary shortly before they went on the market for the first
time; despite this, they were not out about their identity as a nonbinary person, nor about
their pronouns, during any of their job market experiences, because they were afraid that
being nonbinary might count against them depending on the university, department, or hir-
ing committee. Their strategy was to conceal their nonbinary identity, in the hopes that this
would help them receive a job.
In contrast, Jace aimed to obtain a job in an affirming department. He interviewed for
his first tenure-track position in 2014, openly identifying as genderqueer, and discussed his
LGBTQ-focused research agenda, although he was, at that time, still using the tradition-
ally female name and pronouns given by his parents. He assumed that being offered the
position meant the department was ready and willing to have an openly queer faculty mem-
ber with a critical, queer criminological focus. The department seemed fairly diverse for a
criminal justice department, with both women and racial/ethnic minorities represented on
the faculty, including an out lesbian. So, he took the job and, indeed, Jace has numerous
colleagues and administrators who have been and continue to be accepting and supportive.
Like Jace, Brodie was out on the job market. His gender marker at his university has
been recorded as “other” since 2015, when he was still a graduate student, and he is vis-
ible and out as transgender on campus. Brodie has been continuously offered postdoctoral
teaching and research opportunities on a sessional and casual basis within his faculty and
has been met with a culture of support in finding full-time academic work. Brodie identi-
fies as nonbinary on the academic job market in online applications, if a third option is
available. In 2017, Brodie took up a part-time position in a non-profit organization in the
domestic violence sector, which later became a full-time position in 2020. Brodie contin-
ues to engage in casual academic research and teaching.
Several aspects of the process added anxieties for us above and beyond what a cisgen-
der candidate may face on the job market. Applications to schools usually have an equal
opportunity disclosure form where the applicant is asked to check off whether their gender
is “male” or “female.” For nonbinary academics, it is disheartening to have to self-select
into either “male” or “female” when neither is correct. Some schools do have an “other”
or “prefer not to say” category. Allyn and Brodie appreciated seeing “other” categories
and it made them feel more safe applying for those positions as a result. For each of them,
however, this creates additional anxiety, as it feels like a double-edged sword: the “other”
box immediately outs them as transgender, whereas binary trans people have no chance of
facing transphobia in the shortlisting process based solely on what box they tick. Decisions
about pronoun use in applications extend to recommendation letters as well, especially
when some referees know our pronouns and others do not.
On academic interviews, Jace and Allyn each wore clothing that matched their gender
identity—suits cut in styles traditionally made for men. Although this style makes them
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
feel most comfortable, it brought on insecurities: they wondered if they would be judged
for their masculine presentations. For Allyn and Jace, their discomfort regarding dress and
pronoun usage was on top of explaining their queer criminological research agendas to
potential colleagues who may have seen them as irrelevant, fringe, or controversial, adding
to their anxieties.
Interactions withColleagues
Upon accepting a position, trans academics face another set of unique challenges. Allyn
struggled with deciding when to disclose their gender identity to colleagues. In multiple
positions, they told colleagues selectively, staying closeted about their gender from col-
leagues who were less queer-affirming in other ways (for instance, from a colleague who
had pointedly and repeatedly referred to Allyn’s partner as their “friend”), or from adminis-
trators or staff with whom conversations about their gender may have been more awkward
or could have made Allyn seem “difficult.” While Allyn spent time hiding their gender
from colleagues, Jace, Brodie and Ash were more consistently open about their gender.
Jace chose to be public about social transition, sending out a mass email with the sup-
port of the dean, announcing a name change and briefly describing their genderqueer iden-
tity. Two years later, when medically and legally transitioning, he chose to reveal details
to only a few trusted friends and supervisors who needed to know. For the most part, the
effects of hormone replacement therapy and changing pronouns on his email signature
have been sufficient to signal to colleagues that he is a trans man.
Another common challenge we encountered was being misgendered. Misgendering is
a common experience for transgender people and it happens everywhere, including the
workplace. Allyn uses they/them pronouns and Jace and Brodie used these pronouns for
a few years, but while using them, all three were misgendered, even by well-intentioned
allies. All three informed their students about their pronouns on the first day of class and,
for Jace and Allyn, their pronouns were noted on copies of their course syllabus. Their col-
leagues would learn in a variety of ways, some through word of mouth, some by noticing
their pronouns in their email signatures, and some would hear pronouns during introduc-
tions at a committee meeting or workshop presentation. Regardless, it was rare for faculty
to remember, or choose to use, they/them pronounsfor them. When Jace and Brodie used
they/them pronouns, they were constantly referred to as “she,” which brought up feelings
of anxiety, discomfort and embarrassment. As Allyn continues to use they/them pronouns,
they still face these challenges. Jace noted in conversation between the four of us, “It’s
hard to explain the distress and dissonance one feels when misgendered and how it sends
shockwaves through the system that disrupt your mental and emotional state.” Despite
feeling invisible when being misgendered, not wanting to come across as “difficult” was a
common feeling among us, especially pre-tenure or in non-tenure-track positions. There-
fore, Jace, Brodie, and Allyn rarely felt comfortable correcting their colleagues and usually
stayed silent.
While those of us who used they/them pronouns frequently encountered misgendering,
both Jace and Brodie found that when they began using he/him pronouns, these were more
widely used and accepted by others than when they had used gender-neutral pronouns. The
use of “male” pronouns enables others to follow their preconceived understanding of an
“FTM” transition that is more broadly understood than those transitioning to a nonbinary
A.Walker et al.
1 3
identity. After their voices deepened, both Jace and Brodie were more readily assumed to
be male.
For those who continue to use they/them pronouns, we have found some help from
allied colleagues. Allyn recently started a new position and before starting there, some
colleagues who knew about their name and pronouns at that university began spreading
the word throughout their department, which made Allyn feel more comfortable and wel-
comed. Knowing that some colleagues knew their gender and were advocating for other
faculty there to get on board has meant a lot to them and eased their transition into the
department. In addition, both Allyn and Brodie utilized support from colleagues, who edu-
cated administrators about their pronouns so that they did not have to have uncomfortable
conversations with more senior-level individuals.
Safety onCampus
As trans CCJ scholars, we have found that we have a unique perspective regarding issues
of safety on campus because we are often researching and teaching issues faced by broader
trans populations, while experiencing forms of victimization and criminalization ourselves.
In the conversations that unfolded as we developed this piece, we learned that three of the
four of us encountered concerns around physical safety on campus, particularly around the
use of bathrooms prior to medically transitioning. With limited gender-neutral bathrooms
on campus, trans academics and students have to choose the bathroom that best aligns with
their gender or offers the greatest sense of safety—which are not always the same space.
Jace has experienced few threats to physical safety since his medical transition, but prior
to it, during his years of genderqueer and androgynous appearance, he did have issues and
concerns about using campus restrooms or locker rooms. Twice, female custodians clean-
ing restrooms attempted to prevent him from entering, and once he was followed down the
hall and yelled at by an unknown woman. All of these occurred in his own place of work—
only yards from his office. In addition, while attending the Annual Meeting of the Ameri-
can Society of Criminology (ASC) in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2013, a female custodian started
yelling for security when he entered a completely empty restroom. Jace still has a great
deal of anxiety about using public restrooms, but his colleagues have never questioned him
or made him feel uncomfortable. Similarly, Brodie’s feelings of anxiety when using men’s
restrooms subsided significantly since taking medical and surgical steps to affirm his gen-
der. This still exists as an underlying concern, however, when he navigates male-occupied
On Ash’s campus, accessible restrooms, especially ones that can be used by people
with disabilities, are not plentiful. Before choosing to medicalize their transition, Ash usu-
ally chose to wait to use the restroom until they were home because they were not sure
which restroom to use on campus, and the gender-neutral bathrooms were too far out of the
way—only on odd-numbered floors, for example. More recently, they have chosen to use
the men’s bathroom some of the time and mostly still try to wait until they are at home or
in a place where there is a single-stall restroom. Jace practiced the same avoidance of pub-
lic facilities for several years prior to his medical transition.
In addition, while there have been pockets of comfort, Ash has not felt safe overall on
campus as a Black trans person. More and more, campus security and campus police across
the US are both autonomous and connected to larger law enforcement agencies (Paoline
and Sloan 2003), especially in major cities. As we continue to live in times of heightened
violence for Black trans people and other trans people of color (as well as for BIPOC,
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
more broadly), a college campus with both university- and city-level police presence thor-
oughly impacts how Ash navigates the campus. In one particular instance of working late
on campus, Ash was asked by campus security who they were and if they had a reason to
be on campus, when they were leaving their own office. In addition, his campus sends out
“alerts” via email, text message, and social media, when an act or perceived act of harm
and violence occurs on campus. Most of the time, the accused person described in these
“alerts” is an ominous “Black male in a hoodie.” These “alerts” signal to Black students—
and to Ash, in particular, who is post-medicalizing his transition—that campus police and
local police are constantly on the hunt for Black people around campus. With this in mind,
the campus setting has become a place of surveillance and policing, not a place of safety.
In contrast, as a white, transmasculine person, Brodie often feels more safe since tran-
sitioning compared to being perceived as a woman on campus, especially at night hours.
Navigating the campus while being perceived as a white man has afforded Brodie a level
of privilege not experienced by trans women due to transmisogyny, nor Black trans men
due to racism. That said, he now fears for his physical and emotional safety due to the
homophobia directed at gay men—especially while in the company of his cisgender male
partner, as together they are perceived as a male same-sex couple. He felt this heavily dur-
ing the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey under debate in 2017. Brodie and Ash’s
experiences therefore speak to how feelings of safety and the experiences of victimization
are impacted by challenges of intersecting identities.
Trans academics also have to deal with threats to their emotional and mental health due
to transphobic harassment or discrimination in academia. One space in which this may
occur is through student evaluations. Brodie notes how there is often an assumption from
individual students that his school demands left-leaning, progressive attitudes and ideas
to succeed as a CCJ student. Feedback from individual students in student surveys may
express counter-attitudes, particularly around content related to transgender people and
communities. For example, Brodie notes that the statement, “there are only two genders,”
has appeared on student evaluations. Allyn, Jace and Brodie have also faced being misgen-
dered in student evaluations, despite advising students of their correct pronouns. Experi-
ences such as these can have an impact on emotional safety and also have an impact on
financial security, if student evaluations are to be provided in academic job or promotion
If administrators hold transphobic views, the safety of faculty is further compromised.
For instance, holding such views is not typically considered a conflict of interest for inter-
viewers if the candidate is transgender, and a trans candidate would understandably feel
unsafe challenging such views while in a job interview. In Brodie’s not-for-profit sector
role, if a colleague shares their transphobic views with Brodie and calls Brodie a woman,
Brodie would be able to raise the issue with their human resources department. In aca-
demia, however, a superior could publish an article reinforcing the same transphobic
views8 and there is nothing a trans academic can do in terms of discrimination and harass-
ment in this “exchange of ideas.
Dealing with transphobic harassment has also become the norm when dealing with
trans discourses in social media—and there is pressure on us all to have Twitter accounts
to promote our research and build collaborative networks. Upon the publication of one of
8 In order not to inflate the citation count of transphobic work, we have decided not to cite examples. For
those curious about work regarding transphobic views, however, a search for the term “gender critical” will
provide plenty, including a lengthy 2020 article in Feminist Criminology.
A.Walker et al.
1 3
Allyn’s articles, people reacted on Twitter by discussing their gender, with commentators
noting and retweeting, “What an enormous shock, the author of this paper uses ‘they/them’
pronouns.” Dealing with public transphobia becomes a unique challenge to trans scholars
who must decide whether to address these comments head-on or avoid them by being less
publicly accessible. Avoidance can result in missed opportunities to find employment, net-
work, share publications, and develop professionally. And while some of these challenges
online are likely experienced by trans scholars from all disciplines, it is a particularly tir-
ing experience for CCJ trans scholars who become targets of online harassment and hate
speech as a result of publishing research specifically on these types of injustices faced by
trans people.
A popular phrase among educators that is supported and furthered by pedagogies of the
oppressed and privileged is that teaching is a political act (see, e.g., Case 2013). Simply
standing in front of a classroom as a transgender person, particularly in locales that do not
provide employment protections for LGBTQIA + individuals, is a political act. Yet, issues
concerning gender and sexuality arise in every class we teach, especially elective courses
on hate crimes, sex crimes, or victimology. But even when teaching criminology, polic-
ing, or research methods, Allyn and Jace make a point of selecting textbooks and articles
that discuss, for example, LGBTQIA + officers, queer criminology or the measurement of
Our names and pronouns are, of course, also an issue in the classroom. For an entire
year, Jace had to explain to students that the name that appeared on the schedule and in
the online course was not his real name. He began each semester by providing the correct
name and pronouns and coming out as genderqueer, but he continued to get a mix of “he”
and “she,” “sir” and “ma’am”—even after his name was updated in all the university sys-
tems. Pronouns were added to copies of his syllabus and to his email signature, as well, but
students seemed not to notice or understand its importance. After medically transitioning
and using male pronouns, however, misgendering appears to have ceased.
Ash also had similar experiences in the classroom. There were some students, usually
those who outed themselves as queer, who would use the correct name and pronouns for
him. In an act of solidarity, those same students would even correct other students at times.
Many students, however, still used the name and pronouns that Ash did not prefer. To try
to mitigate this, he used several tactics. One tactic was that he would only ever go by his
last name in class and ignore any first name references, noting that it was a reference to his
years playing sports and having his last name on a jersey: this seemed easiest for students
to remember and felt most comfortable for him. Similarly to Jace, Ash has also experienced
less perceived misgendering since deciding to medicalize his transition. Students now say
they “get it” because he/him pronouns make more sense to them with Ash’s most dominant
gender expression, though his gender identity is much more fluid.
After disclosing his trans identity in a tutorial in order to unpack the issue of the binary
and cisnormative experience of the prison system, Brodie had a student address him while
walking after class with a pointed “thanks, ma’am.” He shared this deliberate misgender-
ing with peers afterward, including the Unit Coordinator,9 who offered to have the student
change classes to a different tutor. Brodie did not pursue this option, thinking there was
9 A Unit Coordinator is an academic leader in Australian universities responsible for the development of an
individual learning and teaching unit and overseeing its delivery, including coordinating teaching staff for
the unit. Depending on the size of the unit, they may also be the unit’s Lecturer.
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
still an opportunity for this student to learn. This raises questions of how our gender identi-
ties—and our choice to be out and relate the criminal justice issues in unit material to our
own lives—can impact the learning experience for students both positively and negatively.
Brodie’s experience with students improved greatly after his voice deepened and he started
using he/him pronouns more exclusively, with misgendering also greatly reduced in end-
of-semester student evaluations. The stress he felt when having lectures recorded greatly
subsided when the audio recordings were gender-affirming. For Brodie, the fact that overall
feedback from students in student evaluations has improved since being read as male may
speak to potential biases from students (see Chávez and Mitchell 2019) and/or an increase
in confidence improving his teaching delivery.
Before beginning to collaborate on this article, Allyn had chosen not to come out to
students at the beginning of their courses. Despite an interest in starting their classes with
a pronoun circle, Allyn had been self-conscious about it, wondering if their interest in it
was for their students’ benefit or for their own. After talking with their trans colleagues at
the beginning of collaborating onthis article, however, Allyn began telling students about
their gender and pronouns at the beginning of their classes. Talking to other trans faculty
made them realize that it is worthwhile to prioritize their own comfort in the classroom
when it comes to their identity. It is also important to model appropriate ways of address-
ing transgender people. These are mostly future practitionersin the criminal processing
system, who must become comfortable when speaking to and about trans people.
We have all felt that our gender identities affect the topics we have chosen to study and
write about, as well as the likelihood of being misgendered by editors. Jace and Allyn both
felt drawn to trans and queer issues. As Jace put it in conversation with our group, “If
I don’t do queer work, who will? How many allies do we have who care to do research
on these subjects, or who make sure students learn about them? Who cares more, who is
more qualified?” Allyn feels similarly: writing about issues faced by trans individuals in
the criminal processing system is a passion that they are certain is, at least in part, due to
their gender identity. While Jace and Allyn cannot speak on behalf of trans women of color
who have been victimized and are overrepresented in the criminal processing system, they
do have a shared degree of Otherness that is not shared by cisgender individuals.
While Jace and Allyn have been drawn towardspecific subjects as a result of being
trans, Brodie has felt pushed away from certain subjects. The subject of his honors10 thesis
was the criminalization of those who terminate a pregnancy and the stigma they experience
as it related to a particular legal case in Australia in 2010. In Australia, certainly amongst
feminists, the overall consensus is that if you are a man, you should not be leading the fight
for abortion rights. Being perceived as a man, therefore, has made Brodie feel less com-
fortable participating in academic conversations about abortion. A common phrase among
activists for abortions rights is “no uterus, no say.” If transgender men reply, “I have a
10 An honor’s degree is a one- or two-year research program in Australia, usually representing the highest
level of training in an undergraduate degree. It is also often considered postgraduate, as it is obtained as a
separate qualification to the pass degree (Graduate Careers Australia 2016).
A.Walker et al.
1 3
uterus,” they out themselves as transgender, potentially resulting in feelings of discomfort
and dysphoria.11 In addition, due to their sex variation, Brodie is infertile. When it came
time to decide on a topic for his doctoral thesis, Brodie took the opportunity to focus on a
different criminal justice issue. He still believes it is important for trans and intersex indi-
viduals to have a discussion about bodily autonomy, including when it pertains to repro-
ductive rights, but as a transmasculine individual, Brodie prefers to amplify the voices of
women in the conversation.
Our trans identities have also been a factor in the publishing process. All four of us have
at one point or another used they/them pronouns. We have all sent in bios for publications
using gender-neutral pronouns and had them changed by editors without approval or veri-
fication. Brodie was able to note this when they were sent page proofs, but Jace and Allyn
had their pronouns changed and published without their knowledge. Jace and Allyn were
fortunate to have colleagues who spoke up for them; as a result, the editor made changes
on the electronic version of the publication and the publisher promised to change their poli-
cies to ask for author pronouns upon submission of work. The lack of awareness of these
editors speaks to a larger problem of publication bias within the field, however. As Panfil
(2018) has noted, many queer criminologists have been told that the topics of their queer
scholarship are unpublishable. This may be due to editors overlooking the existence and
importance of queer people.
Emotional Labor
For most of us, considerable emotional labor has been spent educating others about trans
issues in a number of capacities. This ranged from individual conversations with col-
leagues and students to committee work and work with agencies. Individual conversations
often involved discussions around pronoun use. Allyn and Brodie, for instance, noted that
when coming out to others about using they/them pronouns, people tend to give unsolicited
opinions about the grammar involved, which can be an uncomfortable conversation. While
we would like to avoid these conversations, we frequently engage in them to educate, so
that future trans students and colleagues may not have to do so.
Beyond the emotional labor of educating colleagues via coming out ourselves, we have
been involved in educating others through committee work and speaking opportunities.
Allyn and Brodie have been asked and have agreed to serve on multiple committees to
amplify LGBTQIA + issues and to promote diversity in their departments/colleges more
broadly. Similarly, in 2019, Brodie had the opportunity to be a part of a panel as part of his
university’s Pride Month activities, titled “Pronouns: A Conversation.” While these oppor-
tunities have generally been positive experiences, they involve coming out to additional
staff and can come with the emotional labor of discussing their personal experiences of
being gender and/or sex diverse. In 2020, Brodie also had the opportunity to engage with
workers in the wider domestic violence sector, having been a keynote speaker and presenter
on LGBTIQA + diversity and inclusion. The presentation involved speaking to lived expe-
riences drawing on his personal identity and professional experience working with perpe-
trators and coordinating programs in this space. While there was some unease in sharing
11 Further complicating this issue, research produced by people with marginalized identities about people
with marginalized identities is often trivialized, considered self-serving and dismissed as “mesearch,” (e.g.,
Buchanan 2020). We, too, have heard this feedback and we have found ourselves being required to justify
engaging in this work.
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
personal details to a wider audience, this was a positive experience with an audience inter-
ested in learning and wanting to improve their practice to support LGBTIQA + victims of
Jace has also sought to use his personal identity and professional expertise to support
and assist the efforts of faculty, staff and students on his campus, through workshops, pres-
entations, and as a faculty advisor for a potential new trans student support group. In addi-
tion, Jace had the opportunity to engage with criminal justice agencies, having been a co-
instructor for a major city police department’s mandatory in-service training on Trans 101.
The trainings were developed by the department and an LGBTQ organization in the state,
so Jace had no control over the content. He gave twenty-one presentations to approximately
3000 officers in which he was required to out himself and discuss his personal life and tran-
sition process, an act of considerable emotional labor each time. Jace did not enjoy discuss-
ing private issues in a room full of strangers, but only transgender people are experts on
our lives and the additional privileged status of a PhD who teaches CCJ made him ideal for
the task. There were some issues in the first few months with officers, even command staff,
who would argue with the instructors or ask inappropriate questions. But after the influ-
ence and insertion of a new LGBTQ liaison officer as co-instructor, the trainings were re-
organized and began to go much more smoothly. There were frequently officers who would
approach Jace during breaks to offer support, apologize on behalf of older officers, ask for
advice, or thank him for sharing his story. While the experience was challenging and some
days left him drained and unable to complete any other work, Jace is proud to have been
part of such important police training.
Some of the aforementioned service activities we have engaged in involve being placed
in roles that may typically be reserved for more senior faculty. While we have been proud
to engage in this work and agree that we are well-suited to these positions, service is
often devalued within academia and marginalized groups are frequently pulled away from
research by extensive service assignments (Baez 2000; Misra etal. 2011). Trans academ-
ics are no exception to this rule, which can have implications for tenure and promotion;
being able to carve out research time is important for all of our tenure, promotion, and job
market concerns. In addition, these service roles are often voluntary and unpaid for casual
academics, yet frequently included in selection criteria for full-time academic positions.
Discussion andConclusions
There were several themes that were common throughout all of our narratives. We all saw
advantages to being trans, particularly in our scholarship and in our expertise, that we
could provide to our universities and to criminal justice agencies: we are able to teach oth-
ers about best practices when working with trans populations. We also saw, however, com-
monalities in terms of the challenges we experienced due to our trans identities. The chal-
lenges we encountered often affected us emotionally. While these challenges may be seen
by some as small, “affect theorists,” such as Cvetkovich (2012), provide some insight on
why these challenges have struck us as so important; when the emotional effects of the
challenges we encounter are taken seriously, they can be used as catalysts for change.
Misgendering came up for us in the areas of academia that we focused on, from experi-
ences on the job market, to interactions with colleagues and students, and even in schol-
arship. We had different reactions to this, but it was invalidating for all of us, leaving us
A.Walker et al.
1 3
feeling anxious, awkward, frustrated and uncomfortable. Importantly, however, misgender-
ing was not the only challenge we faced. We worried about how others saw us, in terms of
our gender and in terms of difficulty. We worried about our job security and whether being
transgender would make us less hirable in the first place. And we worried about our physi-
cal safety, especially in terms of our access to gendered facilities and, in Ash’s case, in the
context of being a Black masculine person on a heavily surveilled university campus.
Much of the discomfort we experienced was based on a general uncertainty about how
to navigate academia as a trans person. One of the most challenging things about being a
trans academic is that there is often no one to go to for advice: there is no one else leading
the way. None of us had out, professional trans academics to serve as role models in our
graduate programs. In fact, these were really the first conversations we had engaged in with
other trans scholars about the trans academic experience.
Based on our collective and personal experience, we offer guidelines and suggest resources
for other trans scholars and for cisgender faculty and administrative allies.
Advice for trans academics: as the authors of this article wrote together, we found com-
monalities through discussions that validated our own experiences and we also found sug-
gestions from one another that helped us in our own work. To that end, we want to stress to
trans students, scholars, and educators that you are not alone. If you are a trans individual
adjusting to work within the academy, we recommend seeking out other trans individuals
in academic spaces. If you find yourself to be the sole trans person in your school or work-
place, there are trans and queer-identified faculty, mentors, and peers available elsewhere
to support you. Social media groups exist to connect transgender faculty and students: as of
this writing, the Facebook group “Trans PhD Network” connects trans and gender-noncon-
forming individuals who are in, or have completed, graduate programs. Another Facebook
group called “Trans Academics” connects trans and gender-diverse researchers. For trans
scholars working in CCJ, in particular, the Queer CCJ listserv provides connections and
can be joined by contacting Queer criminology is a develop-
ing subfield within criminological work: a concerted effort to organize queer criminology
panels at the annual ASC Conference began in 2013, bringing together both researchers
who study queer issues and queer individuals involved in criminological and criminal jus-
tice research. Members of this subfield have developed the newASC Division on Queer
We also found support from cisgender colleagues who were allies. Therefore, we offer
a list of recommendations for allies to provide a starting point for conversations between
trans academics and allied, cisgender associates.
Recommendations for cisgender faculty and administration: ask pronouns early—espe-
cially if you are on a hiring committee. Ask pronouns in advance of interviews; it sends a
clear message to candidates that you respect trans identities. This also applies to editors of
journals and edited volumes: add a section for pronouns to requested author information.
Normalize the asking of pronouns by providing your own as well; for instance, in your
email signature and at the top of your course syllabus and curriculum vitae.
In addition, please respect the pronoun choices and names of your colleagues. While it
may feel uncomfortable to use pronouns that are unfamiliar to you, such as gender-neutral
pronouns like they/them for a single individual, it is noticeable when you avoid using them
Experiences ofTrans Scholars inCriminology andCriminal…
1 3
and it will get easier with practice. If you make a mistake, the best thing to do is to correct
yourself (or accept the correction from someone else), apologizeor thank the person who
corrected you, and move on with the conversation. Do not belabor it or make a scene that
may embarrass us.
Be an active ally. While participating in trainings and placing Safe Zone or HRC stick-
ers on an office door can be a comforting symbol and message for trans students, it is not
a guarantee of allyship (Devita and Anders 2018). To be an ally means to educate one-
self rather than placing that burden upon trans individuals. To be an ally in the classroom
means to affirm the relevance and importance of trans experiences by incorporating them
into course objectives and lesson plans. Issues concerning gender and sexual orientation,
LGBTQIA + rights, and patriarchal gender norms should all be included in criminal jus-
tice curricula (Miller and Kim 2012). This can also take the form of encouraging your
department or college/university to feature the work of trans scholars. And, perhaps most
importantly, it means speaking up and using your position of cisgender privilege to advo-
cate for trans students and colleagues. If you hear someone misgendering a trans student or
colleague, correct them; this removes some of the social burden and anxiety of transition
from trans people. When working as editors or reviewers for journals and other publica-
tions, ask each author for their pronouns to ensure that they are not misgendered in your
publications and ensure that reviewers for trans-related work are appropriately versed in
the subject area.
Being an ally to trans people means being an ally to Black trans people and other trans
people of color. Often when accounting for LGBTQIA + issues, however, the experiences
and needs of Black and other POC members of the community are left out of the conver-
sation. As the differences between Ash’s narrative and the narratives of the other authors
indicate, Black trans people face particular issues that are not experienced by others—par-
ticularly issues of safety and criminalization that Black populations encounter all too often
(e.g., Alexander 2010; Morris 2016; Muhammad 2019). To that end, when seeking out
trans representation or trans expertise, be aware of whose voices in particular you are seek-
ing: the experiences of Black trans people, and other trans people of color, matter.
Finally, for administrators seeking to support transgender staff and faculty, there are
other resources regarding inclusive policy and procedure that you can access and share,
such as the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s (2016) transgender toolkit for employ-
ers. This toolkit provides information about best practices for issues, such as access to
facilities, dress codes, record-keeping, and restroom policies, all of which can greatly
impact transgender employees. Administrators should ensure that their campus offers
education, programming, and support services for trans individuals; should improve poli-
cies and procedures for the reporting of gender, name and pronouns in university systems;
should foster inclusivity in hiring and recruitment; should make structural changes to sex-
segregated facilities; and should enforce accountability (Seelman 2014; Tierney 1997).
People in administrative positions should also prioritize supporting trans faculty members
if and when issues surrounding their gender arise in the classroom and should strategize to
equitably account for their added emotional labor in the tenure and promotion process.
The above steps are only the beginning in terms of making CCJ fields more wel-
coming for trans scholars. Allies are needed not only to take these steps, but to foster a
climate that encourages familiarity with the needs of trans faculty members throughout
university systems, including in departments, administrations and even among publish-
ers. Ultimately, we hope to see change that starts from within universities and extends
into broader society, through the students we teach and those with whom they interact.
A.Walker et al.
1 3
Given the future work in which students in CCJ will engage, supporting trans faculty in
these fields has an impact far beyond our ivory towers.
Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank the organizers and attendees of the “Centering the Mar-
gins: Addressing the Implementation Gap of Critical Criminology” conference held in Ypsilanti, Michigan,
at Eastern Michigan University, for providing an outlet for and feedback on the presentation that led to this
article. Thanks especially to Rita Shah. The authors would also like to thank the reviewers for their helpful
comments and suggestions.
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... In March 2014, David published "Queer/ing Criminology: New Directions and Frameworks" (Volume 22, Issue #1), a special issue organized by Matthew Ball, Carrie L. Buist and Jordan Blair Woods, which signaled that Critical Criminology: An International Journal would be a welcome home for articles highlighting the criminalization, rejection and stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ population. I would like to think that we, the journal, have continued this important endeavor, such as with the articles in Rita Shah's special issue, "Centering the Margins: Addressing the Implementation Gap of Critical Criminology" (Volume 29, Issue #1, March 2021) (i.e., DeJong et al. 2021;Troshynski and Bejinariu 2021;Walker et al. 2021), as well as with the first three articles in the current issue: "Building an Intersectional and Trans-Inclusive Criminology: Responding to the Emergence of 'Gender Critical' Perspectives in Feminist Criminology" (2021) by Jace Valcore, Henry F. Fradella, Xavier Guadalupe-Diaz, Matthew J., Angela Dwyer, Christina DeJong, Allyn Walker, Aimee Wodda, and Meredith G.F. ...
... Authors have, however, included their pronouns in the body of their articles (see, e.g.,Walker et al. 2021).3 On November 17, 2021, Christina emailed me with the following update:.. . . ...
... Doing so required significant emotional labor, not to mention risk for all of us, especially those among us who are trans, nonbinary, queer, and/ or untenured. Emotional labor by queer and/or critical scholars who study gender and sexuality is common because our work rejects disciplinary orthodoxy; we often face resistance, ridicule, and banishment to the fringes (Schilt 2018;Walker et al. 2021). In addition, scholars who are queer or trans face not only professional rejection, but may also feel personal shame when told by reviewers that studies about their lives hold little value or scientific merit (Pfeffer 2018). ...
... Finally, we suggest that trans scholars be actively cited in, and invited to review, scholarship about trans issues, particularly when such manuscripts are written by cisgender authors. After all, trans people are the experts in matters relating to their own lives (Walker et al. 2021). To treat their perspectives on these matters as irrelevant is intellectually and politically suspect. ...
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This article responds to claims advanced by “gender critical” feminists, most recently expressed in a criminological context by Burt (2020) in Feminist Criminology, that the Equality Act—a bill pending in the United States Congress—would place cisgender women at risk of male violence in sex-segregated spaces. We provide legal history, empiri- cal research, and conceptual and theoretical arguments to highlight three broad errors made by Burt and other trans-exclusionary feminists. These include: (1) a misinterpretation of the Equality Act; (2) a narrow version of feminism that embraces a socially and biologi- cally deterministic view of sex and gender; and (3) ignorance and dismissal of established criminological knowledge regarding victimization, offending patterns, and effective meas- ures to enhance safety. The implications of “gender critical” arguments for criminology, and the publication of such, are also discussed.
... Agreed. A recent article on the experience of trans scholars and criminology (Walker et al. 2021) ended by giving advice to folks like them, folks who want to be allies, and administrators and institutions. It might be helpful if we do something similar. ...
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This article provides a duoethnographic reflection of the authors’ experiences as Asian American women who work in the field of criminology and criminal justice. As two faculty members who actively and loudly contradict notions of quiet, submissive Asian women (or, more specifically, shout “Fuck you!” at these racist tropes), we recognize that while our mere existence in academia disrupts the model minority myth, we have also benefitted from the myth and our proximity to whiteness. As such, we aim to describe the ways in which we have navigated our own identities in interactions with those at the predominantly white institutions where we are/have been employed. Specifically, we share our experiences and negative repercussions related to student mentorship, institutional and organizational biases, and social justice work. We conclude with a discussion of recommendations and advice for faculty and students, accomplices, and administrators based on our shared vision of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
... Terms such as "gay," "lesbian," and "trans" have been shown to be associated with white cultural scripts thereby making LGBTQ+ people of color invisible (Follins & Lassiter, 2017;Greene, 2000;Han, 2007;Hunter, 2010;Moussawi & Vidal-Ortiz, 2020;Nadal et al., 2017;Snorton, 2014;Vidal-Ortiz, 2014). Additionally, data indicate that trans and gender non-conforming people as well as LGBQ people of color experience discrimination, stigma, and victimization at rates well exceeding their white counterparts (James et al., 2016;Sutter & Perrin, 2016;Walker et al., 2021). Since race/ethnicity was not a focal variable of the study, the preliminary finding that Latinx LGBTQ+ participants experienced less nonconsensual sexual contact requires further investigation. ...
Prior research and the #MeToo movement have recognized the complexities of sexual consent and how it contributes to experiences of sexual violence. A heteronormative perspective often dominates discussions on sexual violence at the expense of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual minoritized individuals’ (LGBTQ+) experiences. Utilizing focus groups with LGBTQ+ people to discuss sexual consent, themes relating to sex education, defining sex in queer relationships, trauma and victimization, and overlapping gender and sexual orientation identities emerged. Findings are presented in the context of feminist and queer theoretical perspectives with particular focus on power inequity.
In late summer of 2018, I embarked on a project that involved analyzing probation and parole offices. The original purpose was to understand how architectural features of these offices keep them hidden from the public. As no such data set existed, I created my own by driving to offices and photographing them. This paper discusses the challenges of conducting this photo documentation project, paying special attention to how concerns of fear and safety impacted the data-generation process. I provide an embodied account of how my personhood relates to a social science research question and offer a methodological intervention on the risks of conducting visual criminological studies. I conclude by discussing the broader implications for qualitative criminological research and the field.
Feminist criminologists were pioneers in highlighting that academics’ standpoints (i.e., their social and societal positionalities) influence which “objective” truth they tell. Testimonies, the sharing of one's story, can provide important angles to our understandings of social phenomenon, including of life in the academic sphere. In the present work, we introduce our conceptualization of “inclusive criminology” as a framework for integrating criminological inquiry into a cohesive whole which asserts societies’ rights to valid and complete knowledge as requiring inclusion of previously marginalized identities. In response to this requisite, we conduct a review of published testimonial narratives within criminology and criminal justice (CCJ) as well as a sample of works from other social sciences to inform recommendations on how to meet this inclusive aim.
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In the era of mass incarceration, millions of American citizens have been disenfranchised by the social stigma of a felony conviction. Mentorship of formerly incarcerated students by formerly incarcerated academics-many of whom identify with Convict Criminology (CC)-is slowly forging a pathway out of the social wasteland of past felony convictions. A common goal of CC is to help formerly incarcerated students and academics overcome the social and structural barriers that severely limit their life chances, as well as those of millions of formerly incarcerated citizens in the world's largest prison system. In this article, three formerly incarcerated criminology faculty members focus on the vital importance of mentorship presented through individual autoethnographic writings. We emphasize four prominent narratives or themes: (1) Common narratives of the role of mentorship: Encouragement, inclusion and social capital; (2) Differing narratives of the role of mentorship; (3) Common narratives of the role of mentorship: Experiences of mentoring as activism and advocacy; and (4) Common narratives of the role of mentorship in reducing professional fragility. We also consider other dynamics that might emerge in the mentor-mentee relationship involving FI individuals, including the complexities of "coming out" as FI and the fragility of FI identity in the academic world. We conclude with recommendations for future research on the role of mentorship for FI individuals and make suggestions for other areas of study for CC, more generally. 3
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The path from undergraduate to the professoriate ranks is a running faucet for Black women in the academy. Of the nearly 800,000 full-time faculty at degree granting institutions, Black women represent only 0.8% of assistant, 0.5% of associate, and less than 0.3% of full professors. Racism, sexism, classism, and elitist beliefs about what constitutes a scholarly pedigree and appropriate research, populations of interest, and publication outlets permeate their academic homes. I reflect on my experiences as a mid-career, tenured, Black woman at a research-intensive, Big 10 university and discuss successes, missteps, and transformational moments.
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As an introduction to this special issue on prison education, this article seeks to radically reframe how academic literature addresses and understands the carceral classroom. The primary lens through which prison education is evaluated is as a means of reducing recidivism. In this rhetorical autoethnography, we write back against that assertion, arguing that prison education is far more than a tool for crime reduction. Using a series of autoethnographic glimpses, we offer a view inside the classroom behind bars and demonstrate that prison education is a means of resistance. By choosing to attend classes, prisoners defy gendered norms of hegemonic masculinity in order to resist the societal norm that prisoner lives do not matter.
Research continues to accumulate showing that in instructor evaluations students are biased against women. This article extends these analyses by examining the dynamics between evaluations and gender and race/ethnicity. In a quasi-experimental design, faculty members teaching identical online courses recorded welcome videos that were presented to students at the course onset, constituting the sole exposure to perceived gender and race/ethnicity. This enables exploration of whether and to what degree the instructors’ characteristics influenced student evaluations, even after holding all other course factors constant. Findings show that instructors who are female and persons of color receive lower scores on ordinal student evaluations than those who are white males. Overall, we add further evidence to a growing literature calling for student evaluations of teaching (SETs) reform and extend it to encompass the effects on racial/ethnic minorities in addition to women.