Criminology Queer Criminology
Emily Lenning
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 September 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 September 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0256


Relative to other criminologies, queer criminology is still in its infancy and has only really flourished in the 21st century. Thus, the field is still in the process of forming a coherent identity and agenda. Presently, however, it is evident that queer criminology seeks primarily to do two things. First, it strives to put lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people at the center of criminological inquiry, moving away from the practice of “add queer and stir.” Just as feminist criminology emerged as a response to “add women and stir” approaches to research about gender and crime, queer criminology contends that LGBTQ identities are far too complex to be understood simply as additional variables alongside other demographic characteristics in traditional research. Second, queer criminologists seek to understand and challenge the ways that the criminal legal system is used to enforce and maintain heteronormativity and gender role conformity. In the spirit of critical criminology, many queer scholars contend that to understand the queer experience one must understand how homophobia and transphobia, white supremacy, and class inequalities have impacted rule making, rule breaking, and rule enforcement and how the intersections of one’s identities shapes experiences within the criminal legal system as offenders, victims, and practitioners. This bibliography seeks not to provide a complete list of books, chapters, articles, and agencies that might be considered contributions to queer criminology, but rather to offer a sampling of the variety of work that constitutes queer criminological thought and research.

General Overviews

Though Ferrell and Sanders 1995 called for the development of a queer criminology in the 1990s, the field did not begin to take shape until recently. In a short amount of time, however, several books, articles, and book chapters have provided a foundation for queer theorizing and research within criminology. Several edited anthologies provide broad overviews of research in the field, including Dwyer, et al. 2015, Knight and Wilson 2016, and Peterson and Panfil 2014, while others offer comprehensive overviews of specific issues of importance to queer criminology, such as Fradella and Sumner 2016. Mogul, et al. 2011 and Noga-Styron, et al. 2012 provide rich examples of how queer people have been discriminated against and criminalized in the United States, while Buist and Lenning 2015 explores criminalization around the globe and within each branch of the criminal legal system. Ball 2016 offers a thorough treatment of queer theory and its contributions to queer criminological thought, while Buist, et al. 2018 provides an overview of the research, theoretical contributions, and policy implications of queer criminology. Each of these sources provide readers a basic understanding of the origins and current state of queer criminology.

  • Ball, M. J. 2016. Criminology and queer theory: Dangerous bedfellows? London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-45328-0

    A pioneer in queer criminological theory, Ball provides an in-depth discussion of the connections between queer theory, critical theories, and contemporary queer criminology. He argues that previous theoretical contributions enhance queer criminology’s ability to disrupt the academic status quo.

  • Buist, C. L., and E. Lenning. 2015. Queer criminology. New York: Routledge.

    This book is a user-friendly introduction to LGBTQ experiences in the criminal legal system in the United States and around the globe. It considers how queerness has been criminalized, and how policies and practices within law enforcement, courts, and corrections impact the queer experience as victims, offenders, and practitioners.

  • Buist, C., E. Lenning, and M. Ball. 2018. Queer criminology. In The Routledge handbook of critical criminology. 2d ed. Edited by W. Dekeseredy and M. Dragiewicz. New York: Routledge.

    This chapter gives an overview of the present state of the field, including a review of the debate surrounding the meaning of “queer” in queer criminology, queer experiences with the criminal legal system, and research and policy implications. This chapter is a new addition to the second edition of the handbook.

  • Dwyer, A., M. J. Ball, and T. Crofts. 2015. Queering criminology. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    This edited anthology offers both theoretical and empirical essays from a variety of vantage points. It covers more traditional topics such as sexual violence in prison, and more controversial topics, such as how the study of pedophilia does or does not fit within queer criminological scholarship.

  • Ferrell, J., and C. R. Sanders. 1995. Cultural criminology. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.

    Ferrell and Sanders were arguably the first to make the call for a “queer criminology.” They recognized that gays and lesbians were being criminalized to reinforce cultural expectations and that queer experiences reveal a lot about the cultural politics of crime construction.

  • Fradella, H. F., and J. Sumner, eds. 2016. Sex, sexuality, law, and (in)justice. New York: Routledge.

    This interdisciplinary anthology brings together scholars from a variety of fields to consider legal rights, protections, and violations in relation to sex and sexuality from multiple perspectives. Topics covered include pornography, sexual assault in prison, and sex work, among others.

  • Knight, C., and K. Wilson. 2016. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people (LGBT) and the criminal justice system. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-49698-0

    This book highlights contemporary research considering LGBT experiences as victims and offenders. It focuses on relevant legislation, current data, and best practices.

  • Mogul, J. L., A. J. Ritchie, and K. Whitlock. 2011. Queer (in)justice: The criminalization of LGBT people in the United States. Boston: Beacon Press.

    This book does an excellent job of using specific historic and contemporary examples to demonstrate how laws and criminal justice practice and policy have been used to punish LGBT people for failing to meet heteronormative standards and follow traditional gender expectations.

  • Noga-Styron, K. E., C. E. Reasons, and D. Peacock. 2012. The last acceptable prejudice: An overview of LGBT social and criminal injustice issues within the USA. Contemporary Justice Review 15.4: 369–398.

    DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2012.734564

    This article uses historical and contemporary examples of injustices faced by the LGBT community in the United States to demonstrate how the United States has lagged behind other countries when it comes to sexual and gender equality under the law. The authors suggest that, relative to others, LGBT people still face extreme prejudice in the criminal legal system.

  • Peterson, D., and V. R. Panfil, eds. 2014. Handbook of LGBT communities, crime, and justice. New York: Springer Science + Business Media.

    This hefty anthology covers the gamut with twenty-five chapters addressing a broad range of theoretical and practical issues. Scholarship by some of the most well-known names in the field are divided into the broad categories of communities and victimization, juvenile and criminal justice systems, law and justice, and public health. It also offers chapters that provide basic overviews of queer criminology and future directions.

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