Some of the biggest names in queer transformative justice appeared in Chicago Feb. 2 for a panel discussion at the University of Illinois- Chicago.
"Crime and Punishment: The Attack on Queer, Trans, and People of Color" featured Sylvia Rivera Law Project Founder Dean Spade and co-authors of the book Queer (In)Justice Andrea Ritchie and Joey Mogul.
More than 150 people attended the talk, organized by The Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP).
Ritchie highlighted the ways in which queer people and people of color are often targeted disproportionately by police.
"One person's loitering is another person's waiting in line for the movie theatre," Ritchie said, pointing out that policing often depends on who police and neighbors feel "belongs" in a neighborhood and who does not.
Mogul continued on that theme of belonging by talking about discrimination against queer people in the courts, where transgender people are often referred to as "it," she said.
Mogul argued that queer peer are "deemed inherently untrustworthy" in court and often are subjected to discrimination from prosecutors, judges and jurors when facing criminal charges.
Spade focused on the lives of queer people and people of color behind bars, which he argued is an extension of slavery.
"We have to let go of the fantasy that prisons are full of dangerous people," Spade said.
Spade advocates against hate-crimes legislation, which he said has not been proven effective in fighting hate violence and gives extra muscle to a system biased against LGBTQ people.
"There is really this important myth in the United States … that if you want to change the lives of marginalized people, you change the law," Spade said.
The talk wrapped with comments from Erica Meiners, visiting scholar at IRRPP and a question and answer session.
The event coincided with a zine launch party held later in the evening by the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois. "Hidden Expressions, volume 1" features work by and for incarcerated transgender people. More information is available at www.tjlp.org .