#StandWithMonica to end Profiling and Criminalization of Transgender Women of Color
By Kayley Whalen, Task Force Executive Office Board Liason
Monica Jones, an outspoken critic of the unjust profiling and criminalization of transgender women of color is facing trial today, April 11, in Phoenix, Arizona. As a longtime advocate with the Sex Workers Outreach Project(SWOP) Phoenix, Monica has helped raise awareness of the harms of the anti-prostitution police diversion program Project ROSE. In May 2013, while walking through her neighborhood on the way to a bar, she was arrested and charged with “manifesting prostitution” by an undercover police officer taking part in one of Project ROSE’s numerous police stings.
Activists around the world are showing their support for her by sharing her story using #StandWithMonica on social media. By standing together, we can demonstrate that Monica’s activism in Phoenix is part of a much larger struggle to release the suffocating grip of the criminal justice system on the transgender community, especially for trans women of color and those living in poverty.
I #StandWithMonica because I believe that a trans woman of color should have the right to feel safe walking down the street in her neighborhood. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41% of Black respondents and 25% of Latino/a respondents had been arrested or held in a cell due to police profiling. Programs like Project ROSE only contribute further to police profiling and arresting people simply for “walking while trans.”
I #StandWithMonica because trans people should not be afraid to talk to the police. 47% of all respondents and to the The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported experiencing discomfort seeking police assistance. If we cannot trust the police to protect us, who can we trust?
I #StandWithMonica because trans people deserve employment, good jobs and healthcare. Transgender people are 4 times more likely than the general population to live in poverty. They face pervasive job discrimination, harassment while at work, and incredibly high rates of unemployment. Many are forced to work in the underground economy simply to survive.
I #StandWithMonica because I know trans people need real job skills trainings so they can have the means to survive without relying on sex work. They do not need public shaming and threats of imprisonment. Public money should not go towards programs like Project ROSE. Instead, it should go towards empowerment programs for and by trans people, such as Casa Ruby in DC or Chicago House’s TransWorks program.
I #StandWithMonica because trans prisoners are assaulted every day. If found guilty, Monica Jones will be jailed in a men’s prison facility. Project ROSE insists they are saving trans women and making their lives safer. But instead they are putting them in harms way, into prisons where they will be routinely denied housing with people of their own gender. Where they will be assaulted, raped and denied healthcare. Where they will be placed in solitary confinement “for their own protection,” much like how they were arrested “for their own protection.”
I #StandWithMonica because I am transgender, and I know that my community, including our allies, is stronger when we all stand together.
More information about Monica Jones and the Sex Workers Outreach Project – Phoenix Arizona Chapter can be found here: http://www.swopphoenix.org/monica/.