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Violence, Identity and Policing: The Case of Violence Against Transgender People

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2004 Pages: 395-417
Leslie J. Moran; Andrew N. Sharpe
Date Published
November 2004
23 pages
This article explores the role of identity politics in policing through an analysis of violence against transgender people.
Police have been called upon by transgender people to take violence against them more seriously. This campaign highlights several shortcomings in the protection afforded them, including problems of a lack of police recognition and low detention and clearance rates. The activism of the transgender community may be labeled as another instance of identity politics invading the realm of policing and criminal justice. Indeed, some critics are all too eager to decry identity politics as the culprit in further social and community divisions. Although the authors cautiously share some of these concerns, the main culprit of the problem of social division is not identity politics per se, but rather the particular assumptions regarding the nature of identity politics. The case of violence against transgender people is taken up to illustrate this point and to demonstrate the significance of identity politics for policing. Empirical evidence of the transgender experience of violence and insecurity is offered from Sydney, Australia in order to underscore the layers of social and cultural divisions involved with the transgender experience of violence. Indeed, the authors argue that the “essentializing and totalizing” approach to identity threatens to over-simplify the understanding of the transgender experience of violence and the policing needs of transgender people, as well as all bias-related violence and subsequent police and criminal justice response. Notes, references


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