What is State Violence?

Our working definition of state violence for this project includes:

  • interactions with the police
  • prison system,
  • immigration system, and
  • psychiatric detention ("sectioning").

While the state violence is far-ranging, we chose to focus on these areas as (1) there are  very good organisations already tracking the state of trans healthcare and services in the UK, and (2) the state's disciplinary and surveilling power is most evident in these environments.

Trans-Specific State Violence

Our understanding of state violence is situated in a history of trans-specific experiences and responses. This history has some well known points of reference—for example, the experiences and activism of trans sex workers of colour including Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in the 1960's.

It is also common knowledge among trans people both as we encounter the state in its various forms, and as we discuss those encounters and share our knowledge with one another.

This approach has informed not only the organised political work of trans people, but also the ways in which trans people have, by necessity, responded to and resisted state violence in their day-to-day lives.

TSW is not an attempt to supplant these informal networks and responses, but to build on them towards new forms of knowledge and struggle.