Apparently you can be arrested and convicted for "walking while trans" in some parts of the country.
Monica Jones, a transgender woman and activist, was found guilty of "manifesting prostitution" by a Phoenix, Arizona judge on Friday following her arrest by undercover police officers in 2013.
The kicker? Jones did not actually engage in prostitution the night of her arrest. Rather, she accepted a ride to a bar in her neighborhood by two undercover cops.
Jones' conviction stems from a law defining prostitution as act or action that "manifests an intent to commit or solicit an act of prostitution" -- with the keyword being "intent."
This ambiguity puts the power within the hands of the state, who can define intent within their own framework. According to Policymic, the Arizona ACLU notes that "innocent" and "criminal" behavior is defined by how a person looks.
Within the context of Jones' case, many have claimed that this boils down to "walking while trans," since Jones did not actually engage in any sex work acts at the time of her arrest.
Jones also claims that at the time of her arrest she was not taken to a police station but the basement of a church involved with Project ROSE. Project ROSE is a controversial program that works with police officers to "detain community members that are suspected of being sex workers."
All of these factors have led some to claim that Jones' arrest and subsequent conviction under this ambiguous law stems simply from her identity as a transgender woman of color.
During her recent acceptance of the Stephen F Kolzak Award at the GLAAD Awards, transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox mentioned Jones' story and highlighted the need for further conversation about the daily injustices being faced by transgender individuals. Check it out in the video below.
For more on Jones' case visit the Support Monica Jones Facebook page.