10 January 2017

Book Review: Queer (In)justice

Joey L. Mogul and Andrea J. Ritchie are American attorneys and Kay Whitlock is an American author. Together they wrote Queen (In)justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States.

For a number of reasons, I actively avoid this genre of book and when I read books like this I both feel bad that I avoid reading this genre and also for what it contains.

In certain settings, certain LGBT people are able to find a homeostasis with the pervasive and institutional homophobia that structures heteronormative life. We tend to associate the ease with which someone finds this homeostasis with the economic class the person is in or has been born into.

This book, however, identifies how this homeostasis, if and where it exists, is small and precarious. Heteronormativity and homophobia are reproduced in such a way as to turn to prison industrial complex (in the US) against LGBT people. As same-sex marriage becomes a legitimate social institution, recognized in the law, the space for other forms of sexual and intimate expression narrows. This is not revolutionary. It was the central thesis of Fear of a Queer Planet and The Trouble with Normal over twenty years ago.

What Queer (In)justice demonstrates, however, is the facticity of those predictions. How transbodies are subjected to tremendous amounts of violence by representatives of the state. How HIV disproportionately affects the poor, non-white. How hate crime legislation appears to enhance the penalties of a racist, anti-poor criminal justice system while failing to protect LGBT persons.

The version I read was a 240 page paperback published by Beacon Press (January 24, 2012).

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