Joss studies state punishment of gender and sexual variance, with a focus on transgender experiences with the criminal justice system. His dissertation traces prison regulation of gender-nonconformity in California from 1941-2018, drawing on archival research, oral histories, and 13 months of ethnography in trans prisoner advocacy organizations. By situating contemporary struggles over transgender prison policy within this longer lineage of gendered penal control and prisoner resistance, Joss contextualizes our current moment and invites us to learn from successes, setbacks, and unintended consequences of the past.
In addition to his sociological training, Joss has developed his analysis of state violence against trans people based on his own experiences doing trans prisoner advocacy since 2013. He has been a regular volunteer with organizations in the Bay Area, including the Transgender Gender variant Intersex Justice Project, and most recently served as a core collective member with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. His relationships with organizers and currently incarcerated people motivate him to understand changes in carceral control and how people resist it.
Joss believes that engaged scholarship is a politically powerful tool. To this end, he supports organizations in designing and implementing their own research, leads community workshops based on his data, and has presented his findings to California government officials at the city, county, and state level. He is currently collaborating with a community organizer on the first national research looking at transgender women of color's experiences in the labor market.