This Article discusses gender relations in prison systems and the plight of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender variant prisoners within these systems, where strict conformity with narrow definitions of gender are violently policed. The dominance hierarchy, Blue Code, and toxic masculinity in male prison culture also shape the culture in women’s facilities and much of what happens to LGBT and gender variant juvenile prisoners. The Author describes gender relations in male and female prisons through the context of experiences of inmates raped by other prisoners or prison staff.
The Author argues that the horrific pain and suffering caused by prison conditions, policies and dominance are unconstitutional and must be ended or reversed. Some prisoners fight to change prison conditions they consider unconstitutional through litigation or hunger strikes. Additionally, change is necessary because, while gender relations in prison are not separate and apart from gender relations in society-at-large, the narrowing of gender possibilities in correctional settings creates problems for ex-prisoners returning to the community. An ex-prisoner must leave behind the unfortunate attitudes and behaviors learned behind bars, such as hegemonic masculinity or subservience, in order join the evolving consensus in the community about inclusion of all gender variants and sexual orientations what happens in prison is the opposite of the kinds of progress in gender relationships that we pride ourselves on in the community-at-large.
Terry A. Kupers, GENDER AND DOMINATION IN PRISON, 39 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 427 (2017), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol39/iss3/5