- NBC News Team
In a groundbreaking NBC News investigation, reporter Kate Sosin conducted the first national count of transgender state prisoners and the first survey of where they are housed. Sosin found that out of nearly 5,000 transgender state prisoners tracked in 45 states and Washington, D.C., only 15 were housed according to their lived gender — suggesting that states are violating a federal law designed to protect prisoners from sexual violence.
Each particle in the visual represents a person; in total that's nearly 5,000 dots. In order to map that out on the page with reasonable loading speed, the team tested the approach from drawing dots on svg by using d3.js force layout. However, the performance was not ideal so the team ended up writing with WebGL on canvas.
Sosin’s tenacious reporting exposed for the first time the true scope of the difficulty facing transgender prisoners — a population hidden from public view, whose stories are rarely told. The data Sosin collected in their investigation, which was shared widely by LGBTQ advocacy groups and political leaders, is essential to ensuring that their struggles are no longer ignored.
After collecting responses from states, Sosin worked with members of NBC News’ data journalism team to visualize the stark injustice facing transgender prisoners. The resulting interactive scrolling graphic developed on Canvas with d3 and ScrollMagic powerfully presented the data to clearly show the discrepancy between federal requirements and the actual treatment of transgender prisoners.