How LBGTQ Individuals Experience Criminal Justice

June 29, 2022

A queer criminologist explains why LGBTQ individuals experience being overpoliced and underserved, on the Thought Project.

Class of 2022: Max Osborn to Villanova

In this Pride Month episode of The Thought Project podcast, we talk to Max Osborn, a recent graduate of the Criminal Justice Ph.D. program at the CUNY Graduate Center who has carved out a niche as a queer criminologist, studying how LGBTQ individuals are affected by the criminal justice system.    

For his doctoral dissertation, Osborn, who is transgender and uses he and they pronouns, interviewed 42 LGBTQ individuals living in New York City to understand what their encounters with the police and with social services were like and how these interactions impacted their well-being, behavior, and sense of safety.    

He found, for example, that queer people, depending on the context, “altered their presentations to be more gender normative, to stand out less, to kind of anticipate what was being expected of them and sort of conform to that.”    

Osborn says that the LGBTQ people he spoke to described anticipating what would happen if the police or other authority figures discovered they were queer or trans. A persistent concern is whether they can pass as cisgender, knowing that gender nonconforming individuals are often targeted by law enforcement officials.    

Osborn learned too about the obstacles that LGBTQ individuals encountered in accessing social services and health care, including cost barriers and discrimination. Some LBGTQ interviewees shared wrenching stories about being misunderstood, mis-gendered, or mistreated. Osborn also interviewed service providers and observed that many of them were doing excellent work but were overloaded with clients.    

Osborn has published his work across multiple disciplines in journals including Violence Against Women, Trauma, Violence & Abuse, and the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.    

Later this year, he starts a tenure-track faculty position at Villanova University.    

Listen in to learn more about his timely research.   

CUNY Graduate Center · How LBGTQ Individuals Experience Criminal Justice

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