Arrested for Walking While Trans: An Interview with Monica Jones

In Phoenix, Arizona, you can be arrested for repeatedly stopping and engaging a passerby in conversation. This may, under Phoenix law, be evidence that you are "manifesting" an intent to engage in prostitution. Of course, this could also be evidence that you are lost or canvassing for a political group or simply talking about the weather. The difference between "innocent" and "criminal" behavior often comes down to how a person looks. Transgender women of color are often profiled by police as engaging in sex work for simply being outside and going about their daily routines. Amnesty International documented this disproportionate targeting by police of transgender women as sex workers in a 2005 report. "[S]ubjective and prejudiced perceptions of transgender women as sex workers often play a significant role in officers' decisions to stop and arrest transgender women," the report concluded. One woman told Amnesty, "'No tenemos el derecho a vivir.' (We don't have the right to live.)."

Black transgender activist Monica Jones knows this all too well.

Last May, Monica was arrested under the disturbingly vague and overbroad manifestation ordinance. "I believe I was profiled as a sex worker because I am a transgender woman of color, and an activist." Monica explained.

"I am a student at ASU, and fear that these wrongful charges will affect my educational path. I am also afraid that if am sentenced, I will be placed in a men's jail as a transgender woman, which would be very unsafe for me. Prison is an unsafe place for everyone, and especially trans people." On April 11, 2014, Monica will go to trial and the ACLU will be assisting in her constitutional challenge to the manifestation ordinance. Together we hope to send a message about the injustices that transgender women of color so often experience at the hands of the police.

This week Monica and I discussed Project ROSE, the profiling of trans women of color, and where she finds her inspiration.

Chase Strangio (ACLU): In May of 2013, you were protesting Project ROSE in Phoenix. What is Project ROSE? Why have you and other activists in Phoenix and across the country been protesting it?

Monica Jones: Project ROSE is an anti-prostitution collaboration between the Arizona State University School of Social work, the Phoenix Police Department, and Catholic Charities, which claims to provide services to workers within the sex industry through a prostitution diversion program. Through massive street sweeps and online sting operations targeting workers within the sex industry and bringing them into the program without the benefit of counsel, Project ROSE instead sends many participants to jail after they don't qualify for the program or "fail" out of it, increasing the number of people in jail for prostitution-related charges.

Myself and others involved in the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Phoenix have been protesting Project ROSE because we don't believe consenting sex workers are victims, or that workers need to be arrested in order to get services.

Chase Strangio (ACLU): What are some of the most pressing issues facing trans people of color in your community?

Monica Jones: Some of the most pressing issues facing trans people are criminalization and threats of violence. All around the country trans people are targeted for police harassment. Due to discriminatory policing and social inequities experienced by trans people of color, nearly half of Black transgender people have been incarcerated at some point in their lives.

We also deal with increased harassment and violence on the streets by both civilians and police officers. We also face disproportionate job and housing discrimination. Trans women of color like myself, and trans individuals in general, have a huge unemployment rate due to discriminatory policies like Arizona being a "right to work" state, which makes it generally hostile for workers, and then a lack of affirmative employment protections for transgender people.

There is a lack of understanding of trans issues and the needs of trans communities. One example of the discrimination we face is the attempted passing of SB 1045 in Arizona, the "bathroom bill," which would have made it illegal for trans individuals to use the bathroom of the opposite gender to which they were assigned at birth. We fought against that bill and won.

Chase Strangio (ACLU): In conversations about your case and police harassment of transgender women, people have mentioned the phrase "walking while trans." Can you explain what that means? Does that resonate for you?

Monica Jones: "Walking while trans" is a saying we use in the trans community to refer to the excessive harassment and targeting that we as trans people experience on a daily basis. "Walking while trans" is a way to talk about the overlapping biases against trans people - trans women specifically - and against sex workers. It's a known experience in our community of being routinely and regularly harassed and facing the threat of violence or arrest because we are trans and therefore often assumed to be sex workers.

I have been harassed by police four times since my initial arrest last May. The police have stopped me for no real reason when I have been walking to the grocery store, to the local bar, or visiting with a friend on the sidewalk. The police have even threatened me with 'manifestation with intent to prostitute' charge, while I was just walking to my local bar!

Chase Strangio (ACLU): You have done such amazing work and have inspired so many people to stand up to harassment and violence. Who inspires you?

Monica Jones: More than anything, my family inspires me. My family has always been loud and stood up for what is right, and they taught me to do the same. Also, some of my teachers and professors that have supported me and steered me to become an activist have inspired me. And my friends in the activist community here in Phoenix inspire me to keep fighting.

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As many of you who are just finding out about "Arizona" and their tactics concerning denying personal "Natural" rights for their "Interpretation", rules or prejudice mentalities,,, welcome..
Arizona, Like Texas and all of the "Red" States don't like the Constitution and have consistently inserted their version and their bigoted agendas as was evidence of the, "Failed",,, "to refuse to serve", one the their governor vetoed.
This is just the tip of the Iceberg, and they have kept it that way now for over 200 years now.
Some of you may not remember their Justice Rehnquist who was a major player in their voting system or "Lack" of one and of course we can't forget his involvement with the joke of a president he signed off and that joke of that,, election.
The issue here is when, "Anyone" is arrested for any infraction there, they should say that they are being "Unconstitutionally" arrested and take them to court where they can receive justice in that State.
All of Arizona's laws are unconstitutional because they trample on the "Natural Rights" of every citizen who walks down a sidewalk and talks to strangers?? Why is that a violation and is that law valid in,, "Broad Daylight"??

nelly harrison ...

WTF and you guys think you are the leaders of the FREE world, live and let live, stop profiling people..... how would you like it ? For example by reading and seei g what you are doing I profile as a bunch of ignorant assholes.WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TOO LATE AND REMEMBER WE ARE LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES. Open your hearts and minds and perhaps all our lives will become better. Darkness cannot stop darkness only light can, and hate can not cure hate only love can. Love you Monica and all people of this spinning beautiful globe. Xxx


Monica and others like her seem to believe they are being personally persecuted by police officers for their lifestyles behind closed doors. The statistic supporting this claim is that over half of women like her have been imprisoned. My question, what were they incarcerated for? No police officer can simply bring the charge "I don't like their private lifestyle". In fact, I doubt the authorities making the arrests even know about their private lifestyle. It seems logical to conclude that those same people who defy the laws of nature have no problem defying the laws of the land.


Why is the FBI investigating this recent "Illegal" decision by some of our Supreme Court Justices that colluded with "Citizens United" under the guise of representing , "Real People" and changing the status of corporations and defining them a,, "A Person"???
Here's a question for you to answer,, "When was the last time a, "Corporation" was executed?
These few Justices have committed a crime against "The People" and should be held accountable or removed from their position for making a ,,"Bad Decision". Again..

Apostle Shada Mishe


Apostle Shada Mishe

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Pharmacology of Ambush on the GUT of an end stage AIDS person.

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When Ambush is taken in the liquid form, it is slightly basic and forms a stable compound in the acidic stomach.The Ambush compound is close to the stomach lining to exert the "natural radioactivity" effect which kills the virus in the stomach. Here the entire mid section feels very warm and sometimes feverish. The infected stomach lining with the dead areas is then passed out as a black slime in the stool. This usually happens about day 4 while on an Ambush regime of 60 ml three times daily for 21 days, wherein the person has a large bowel movement.

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To #3: probable cause is a low standard. You only need probable cause for a search or arrest warrant; it's a higher standard to convict, not to charge, and prosecutors often give a lot of deference to police because police are in the field and see the alleged behavior, whereas an intake prosecutor is at the courthouse just waiting for calls from police on charging behavior the police have detained someone for. Thinking that police actually know the law is erroneous, and it's the DA that brings a charge, not the police.

Also, the article pointed out patterns of legal behavior that police could view as illegal, i.e. talking to people on the street (whether innocent or not) can be construed as solicitation of prostitution. And you're incorrect, the police consider the "lifestyle" when they observe this behavior and seek to curtail it, whether legal or not. Racial and sexual orientation/gender identity profiling still exist. It would be easy for a police officer to see a certain behavior, make assumptions about the legality of the behavior based on the race and gender of the alleged perp, and would likely also assume that the perp would like to avoid arrest. Cops, like all people, are biased, and it's only worse in jurisdictions that seem to want to flaunt constitutional rights, like Arizona.

This is aside from the fact that sex work should be legal, but that's neither here nor there.


Skeptic please explain how it is against nature. Show me your evidence, especially since all science says otherwise.


Skeptic, please explain how being transgender is "a lifestyle". I'd love to know.

Josh mi

No one here is defying the "laws of nature". We have a group disproportionately targeted for arrest and a prison system meant to be tough on criminals in the punishment department with no emphasis at all on rehabilitation beyond teaching a religious doctrine that sex workers are victims not capable of voicing their own experiences and needs.

That's why it's important to recognize the system for what it "naturalizes". In this case it's that criminals deserve no rights and it serves the interests of the police, the justice system, and the prisons to incarcerate as many people as possible. This is a problem of capitalism that is unsustainable and torturous for those targeted and especially for criminals.


Trans people are guilty of lying by omission because if they let people think that they are the opposite sex, than they are lying.


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