Transgender Youth in Juvenile Justice and other Correctional Systems

Developed and submitted by the Committee on Children and the Law in collaboration with the SOGIIC committee

Research demonstrates that transgender youth are at increased risk for being bullied, harassed and physically assaulted. They also have a higher incidence of suicide attempts. For these reasons, transgender youth face particular challenges in juvenile justice and other correctional systems.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry opposes all discrimination based on gender identity. Consistent with this position, the Academy recommends that detention and corrections staff classify and house all youth consistent with their gender identity, as the youth defines it. Based on individualized risk assessments, facilities should take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of every youth in their custody, including transgender youth.

The Academy further recommends that transgender youth should be referred to by their preferred pronoun and name. The Academy also believes that transgender youth must have access to all educational and recreational programs and services available to the general youth population. Absent serious short term safety concerns, it is inappropriate, discriminatory and dangerous for transgender youth to be segregated, isolated or placed in solitary confinement due to resource limitations or the absence of an appropriate setting. Finally, the Academy believes that transgender youth in correctional systems are entitled to access to comprehensive psychiatric and other medical care consistent with prevailing national standards and guidelines.


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2009). Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Civil Rights.

Hunt, J. & Moodie-Mills, A. (2012, June). The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth, Center for American Progress.

Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Sexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents. (2012). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(9):957-974.

World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) (2012), Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People (Version 7).

Shannan Wilber (2015) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System, A Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform, The Annie Casey Foundation.


The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry promotes the healthy development of children, adolescents, and families through advocacy, education, and research. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are the leading physician authority on children’s mental health.

Approved by Council March 2016