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“At least 40% of people incarcerated in American women’s prisons identify somewhere under the broad lesbian-bisexual-trans-queer umbrella—a shocking statistic that holds true when looking at detention centers for youths as well,” historian Hugh Ryan recently wrote in The Washington Post. “As women’s incarceration skyrockets in America—increasing 700% in just the past 40 years—naming and dealing with the homophobia and transphobia at its root is crucial to understanding this phenomenon and unraveling it.” In this edition of Rattling the Bars, Mansa Musa speaks with Ryan about why so many LGBTQ people are incarcerated today and how sexism, homophobia, and transphobia became baked-in features of our modern prison-industrial complex.

Hugh Ryan is a New York-based historian, curator, and author of The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison and When Brooklyn Was Queer.

Pre-Production/Studio/Post-Production: Cameron Granadino


The transcript of this video will be made available as soon as possible.

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Mansa Musa, also known as Charles Hopkins, is a 70-year-old social activist and former Black Panther. He was released from prison on December 5, 2019, after serving 48 years, nine months, 5 days, 16 hours, 10 minutes. He co-hosts the TRNN original show Rattling the Bars.