Monica Jones, a transgender woman of color and activist living in Arizona, was arrested and found guilty by a judge of "manifesting prostitution." The charge, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, can be brought against someone for "repeatedly stopping and engaging a passerby in conversation," but police profiling of transgender women of color as alleged sex workers simply for being outside combines with such laws to differentiate "innocent" and "criminal" activity.
In 2013, Monica accepted a ride to a neighborhood bar from two undercover cops and was arrested, joining the more than 350 people arrested since 2011 under Project ROSE, an anti-sex work collaboration between Arizona State University's School of Social Work, the Phoenix Police Department, and the local Catholic charities. Monica had previously spoken out against Project ROSE and believes she may have been targeted by police for that reason. The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) has affirmed that Project ROSE harms sex workers.
Last Friday, Monica was found guilty of the manifestation charges and is now looking at time in a men's prison. Widespread support for Monica continues to build on social media with the hashtag #StandWithMonica, and during an acceptance speech at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox discussed Monica's case, saying, "You can be arrested for prostitution just for walking while trans. That happened in Arizona just yesterday, so there is so much more work that needs to be done to make sure that never happens again."
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