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Gender and Sexuality as Methodological Confounds in the Study of Transgender Prisoners

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Envisioning Criminology

Abstract

In the summer of 2007, Alexis Giraldo, a transgender parolee who served over 2 years in California prisons, sued the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and individual prison staff members who allegedly allowed her to be serially raped by her male cellmates while in Folsom State Prison. After successfully navigating a complex and exhausting extralegal and legal complaint process, Giraldo, a young Puerto Rican transgender woman—a biological male who identifies and presents as female—had her day in court. During the 2-week trial in San Francisco Superior Court, the plaintiff and her attorney communicated to the jury, the witnesses in the courtroom, and the press how she was placed in a men’s prison without regard for the obvious risk of sexual assault from the male prisoners she was housed with, endured daily beatings and brutal sexual assaults by her cellmate, begged for help from prison staff and was told to “be tough and strong,” reported the injuries to doctors and therapists, and officially documented her situation and experiences.

This is an edited version of “From Policy to Prisoners to People: A ‘Soft-Mixed Methods’ Approach to Studying Transgender Prisoners,” originally published in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 2010, 39(5):517–553. Reprinted with permission of Sage Publications. All rights reserved. Reader should consult the original publication for the original acknowledgments as well as the full text, footnotes, and references. Direct all correspondence to Valerie Jenness, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine, 92697-7080. E-mail: jenness@uci.edu

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Giraldo v. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Case No. CGC-07-461473, Superior Court of California, City and County of San Francisco.

  2. 2.

    “Bruce” is a pseudonym.

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Correspondence to Valerie Jenness .

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Jenness, V. (2015). Gender and Sexuality as Methodological Confounds in the Study of Transgender Prisoners. In: Maltz, M., Rice, S. (eds) Envisioning Criminology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15868-6_7

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