When Walking Down the Street Is a Crime

When Monica Jones left her house on the evening of May 17, 2013, she expected to hang out at a local bar and restaurant and meet up with some friends. But for transgender women of color, just walking down the street can be a criminal act.

Especially in Phoenix, Arizona, where literally "any bodily gesture" can be sufficient evidence that you are intending to engage in prostitution.

When an undercover officer saw Monica Jones, a black transgender woman, walking down the street just a few blocks from her house, in an area that the officer described as being "known for prostitution," that was enough to convince him that she intended to engage in prostitution. It was on that basis that he approached and stopped her.

In April of this year, Monica was convicted of violating this overbroad and vague law. Today she appeals that conviction, and the ACLU, along with other advocacy and civil rights organizations, filed a brief in support of her appeal.

We #StandWithMonica because transgender women of color should be able to walk down the street in their neighborhoods without being arrested, or worse, for simply being themselves.

We #StandWithMonica because 47 percent of black transgender women have been incarcerated at some point in their lives.

We #StandWithMonica because in June of this year, four transgender women of color, that we know of, were murdered.

We #StandWithMonica because transgender women of color are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than their non-transgender counterparts.

We #StandWithMonica because she is taking on great personal risk to stand up for the transgender community.

While approximately 94 percent of criminal cases are resolved with pleas, Monica went to trial, risking jail time, to tell her story and draw attention to the problem of police profiling of transgender women.

Tonight, Monica will join Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox onstage in Phoenix for a conversation about the criminalization of transgender women of color and visions for justice. Both Monica and Laverne are claiming space in different ways to tell their stories of survival and resistance against all odds.

Join Monica, Laverne, and the ACLU in demanding justice for transgender people. Today in support of Monica's case follow the #StandWithMonica hashtag on twitter to send the message that police profiling of transgender women of color must stop.

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Dee Omally

Thank you for all you do. There is much more work than you are able to handle and we do understand. In 2010, I lost a job (1st time ever) after I revealed to my supervisor that I was trans. This harsh reality has made me a trans equality activist! http://genderidentitystrife.blogspot.com/

Anonymous

The facts reported here are of course not what was she admitted to on the stand and at trial. It had nothing to do with her just walking on the street, but she approaching the cop, later grabbing his crotch (admitted on the stand) and other actions that should be reportedly honestly on - not the walking while trans which has nothing whatsoever to do with her arrest and conviction.

I was at the trial and amazed at the mis reporting of why she was arrested and convicted. The ACLU attorney did a great job arguing against the law but based on the facts of the case not what is reported here.

Anonymous

What is reported here is totally opposite of the facts of the trial. Monica approached the cop, admitted on the stand grabbed his crotch, had her breasts hanging out etc as admitted

Her arrest and conviction had nothing to do with the mis reporting of walking while trans. I was at the trial.

The ACLU attorney did a great job arguing the constitutionality of the law, but did not dispute the facts that are not reported accurately here. The judge based on her admissions and evidence had little choice but commit but noted he was not dealing with the constitutional issues of the law and expected the appeal.

@Evecho_ and bv...

I stand with Monica! In 6" heels too! Also, trans must stop infighting--"she's too old to wear that short skirt, "to much make-up" etc. Life goes by to quickly! So, sexy girls show me some skin and enjoy life now!!

Alvy King

After being "A card carrying liberal" ACLU member from 1967 - 2012, I ended my membership because of your dropping rights of organized labor as one of your primary concerns. Please show me where I am mistaken, so I can rejoin.

Anonymous

Was there ever an offer to exchange money for sex?

Anonymous

No, there was no exchange offer for sex that is why she was not arrested for prostitution but the broad, vague "manifestation" law when she asked him if he was a cop.

She approached the cop after exchanging brief glances when cop drove by. The cop pulled into a parking lot. Monica testified she then approached the (bald) cop because "he was cute." in her testimony.

It has nothing to do with her being TS or at the Project Rose protest. Cop knew nothing of her and from a distance Monica looks like an attractive larger women with pretty female face. In my view only her low voice gives me a clue she is TS and so what? Had nothing to do with the arrest or case.

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