Criminalising Gender Diversity: Trans and Gender Diverse People’s Experiences with the Victorian Criminal Legal System


Trans and gender diverse (TGD) people are disproportionately criminalised and face unique vulnerabilities when interacting with the criminal legal system. However, very little is known about TGD people’s experiences of criminalisation in Australia or the strategies TGD people and their advocates use to navigate the criminal legal system. Based on survey responses from TGD people with lived experience of criminalisation and lawyers with experience representing TGD clients, this article identifies several critical issues with the criminal legal system’s treatment of TGD people and outlines the strategies TGD people and their representatives suggest to address these issues. On this basis, we argue that criminologists and criminal legal practitioners urgently need to interrogate and work towards ameliorating the criminal legal system’s treatment of gender diversity. These insights will be crucial in informing future advocacy efforts and reform agendas, given that knowledge in this area is severely lacking.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-12-01
Pages:99 to 112
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How to Cite
Mitchell, M., McCrory, A., Skaburskis, I. and Appleton, B. (2022) “Criminalising Gender Diversity: Trans and Gender Diverse People’s Experiences with the Victorian Criminal Legal System”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(4), pp. 99-112. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2225.

Author Biographies

La Trobe University

Dr Matthew Mitchell is a Lecturer in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies at La Trobe University, Australia. Matthew researches primarily in the field of queer criminology, with broader interests in criminological and social theory, qualitative research methodology, and cultural criminology. Matthew’s research interests concern anti-queer violence, the State’s involvement in harms related to gender and sexuality, and the State’s role in shaping the livability of queer lives.

Australian Catholic University

Adrien McCrory is a PhD Candidate at the Australian Catholic University, researching the experiences of trans and gender diverse people in Australia’s criminal justice system throughout the twentieth century. Adrien’s studies focus on modern Australian history, particularly the intersections of gender, crime, and how these are constructed and negotiated in the press and politics.

Doogue + George Lawyers

Isabelle Skaburskis BAH (UofT), JD (Melb), LLM(i) (Cantab) is a Senior Associate at Doogue + George Defence Lawyers and was previously a Judge’s Associate in the Supreme Court of Victoria. She is a practising criminal defence lawyer with a particular focus on social justice. She has previously worked in Cambodia and Palestine in the area of human rights. Before becoming a lawyer, she ran a social enterprise in Cambodia that supported young people to overcome poverty and trauma. 

Transgender Victoria

Brenda AppletonOAM is an out and proud transwoman who is passionate about using her lived experience to advocate for equity and the health and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse people (TGD) across Victoria. Brenda has been involved with Transgender Victoria for more than 20 years and has served on many Victorian government taskforces, committees, and working groups dedicated to issues affecting LGBTIQA+, especially TGD, people.