The crisis of mass incarceration has made its way into US mainstream politics in the last five years owing in large part to the transgender activists of color who have been at the forefront of prison abolitionist movements for the last five decades. While mainstream media displays a seemingly insatiable visual appetite for trans and queer bodies, transgender women and trans-queer people—particularly those of color—continue to experience violence and criminalization at increasingly high rates. If we are to understand the prison industrial complex as an infrastructure of oppression upheld in part by the dominant narrative that people of color, poor people, and queer people are “dangerous” (to the white-capitalist-heteropatriarchy), it is critical to examine the visual language of criminalizing queerness and to further consider the work of artists grappling with efforts to shift the narrative while remaining wary of the traps of visibility.

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