This has been reported on in several places for a couple of weeks, and I finally did some investigation into the reports. This linked news story seems to present the best and most accurate summary of the situation. And it’s something which should scare any transperson living in or thinking of going to Phoenix, Arizona.
Phoenix, in a ham-fisted attempt to stop the rampant prostitution which exists in the city (and if you ever visit Phoenix and drive the main streets at night, the prostitutes are EVERYWHERE, and very obvious), has devised a “solicitation” law which seems blatantly un-Constitutionally vague. The defendant in this case, Monica Jones, is a transsexual woman who was caught up in this by the act of accepting a ride home from a bar.
What happens to women who are swept up in this giant net is even more disturbing – they are taken in handcuffs to Bethany Bible Church, where they are forced to participate in a diversion program. While taken against their will they are not allowed to call an attorney or anyone for help, creating a terrifying situation similar to those detained under the PATRIOT Act.
In all fairness we must note that in the case of Jones a prior conviction for prostitution meant she was ineligible for diversion, so instead she was arrested and given a court date. While waiting for her day in court,
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!
As a result, she was convicted and sentenced to 30 days – in a men’s prison. Her appeal is pending, and I hope very much she can succeed.