Arizona Transgender Woman Monica Jones on trial for refusing “Project Rose”

By Kelli Anne Busey
@kellibusey

 

Monica’s troubles began one night after protesting Arizona’s failed religious anti LGBT legislation while walking to a bar. An undercover officer engaged her in a conversation which led to her being charged with “manifesting prostitution”, AKA walking while trans.

Since Jones hadn’t been previously charged with similar ‘crimes’ Ms. Jones was offered a deferral if she enrolled in the Catholic/police/university “Project Rose” and successfully completed it.

However, Ms. Jones is fighting back refusing the plea and religious programming despite being repeatedly harassed by police.

Moskal-Dairman is certain her friend was profiled, saying Jones was stopped multiple times after the initial run-in with the undercover officer and that SWOP-Phoenix has video of police profiling Jones and using discriminatory language against her.

“She was profiled as a sex worker because she’s a trans woman of color. She is not guilty,” Moskal-Dairman said.

Jones has sequentially becoming a local and national icon for the woman previously targeted by this program with it’s 70% fail rate.

The programs co founder was recorded in the video below saying she believes that once a woman prostitutes herself she will forever remain burdened with shame.

Once you have prostituted yourself,  having so many body parts in your body, and doing so many weird and freaky things you can never have not have not prostituted.

No argument there. Once you become indoctrinated with Catholicism you will be forever shameful.

Monica isn’t the first one to suffer the consequences of speaking up. Al Jazeera reporter Jordan Flaherty was fired and his 2013 article “Arizona’s tenacious laws against sex workers US state’s initiative that aimed to improve prostitutes’ lives has brought “no real reform” as harsh penalties persist” was deleted. You can still read Jordans article here.

Sex Work In Phoenix from news clips on Vimeo.

Al Jazeera has since published a watered down version of their original article but RT has taken up the slack by publishing Sex workers in Arizona given choice of therapy in church or arrest.

The Young Turks hosts The Young Turks hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian brake it down, jail or church.

Stand with Monica…


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Kelli Busey

Kelli Busey

Contributer at TransAdvocate
Army veteran Kelli Busey and the author behind PlaneTransgender. She was the first author to accept a year commitment to the Reconciling Ministries Blog (RMN) where she wrote about civil disobedience actions she engaged in with Soulforce, a faith-based LGBT organization.

In 2008, Kelli founded the Dallas Transgender Advocates and Allies and has written for a number of magazines and is currently a contributor at the Daily Kos.
Kelli Busey
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20 comments on “Arizona Transgender Woman Monica Jones on trial for refusing “Project Rose”
  1. Pingback: Monica Jones, AZ Transgender woman convicted of the crime “Walking While Trans” | Planet Transgender

  2. Prostitution is illegal in Arizona. The City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office contracts with Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion, through a open-bid RFP process, to provide a non-sectarian diversion alternative to jail. The program and Project ROSE both rely on peer-counseling by mentors – including transgendered mentors – who are survivors of the sex trade. The diversion program has been validated and the data published in peer-reviewed studies.

    The DIGNITY Diversion Program is available to women, men, and transgendered individuals who have been charged with prostitution. (Persons who have completed the program and re-offend, however, are ineligible to participate.)

    Project ROSE is an initiative to bring social services and earlier intervention to individuals who would otherwise select diversion after criminal charges have been filed. The primary Project ROSE partners are the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona State University School of Social Work, the Phoenix City Prosecutor’s Office, and the Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion Program. Some of the other agencies providing services are EMPACT (mental health services), Community Bridges (drug detox services), and Streetlight USA (safe housing services).

    Project ROSE operates from the facilities of Bethany Bible Church. When the City was looking for a facility that would open its doors to a program which brings prostituted persons on its campus, Bethany Bible offered their facility with no-strings attached. The facility has private work spaces for each of the social service agencies, a kitchen (from which workers, clients, and police officers are invited to dine without charge), a private area where volunteer healthcare workers can diagnose, treat, and/or refer patients, and a staging area where clothing – including clean underwear and socks – is available. There is no religious component or content to Project ROSE. Other than facility maintenance, the clergy and congregants of Bethany Bible are not participants. (In fact, on the one occasion a participant asked to speak with clergy, we were unable to locate anyone.)

    The main bone of contention between Project ROSE and its critics is, I believe, philosophical. At the SWOP rallies I saw signs that said Prostitution Is Not A Crime. I take that to be a philosophical position because, in Arizona, prostitution IS a crime. Project ROSE’s goal is to enforce the law in the most humane manner possible. Make no mistake, anyone charged with prostitution in Phoenix can decline the diversion alternative and proceed through the judicial process with all its legal protections and consequences.

    SWOP is probably right that most of the individuals seen by Project ROSE are poor. From my years of experience, I have observed that the (mostly) women who work the streets and Backpage ads are poor. Who else would get in a car or go to the motel room of a stranger – with the risks of violence, disease, and degradation – to perform a $20 blowjob?

    Some are mentally ill, many are substance abusers, some are trafficked by pimps or family, some are on the streets so they can eat or spend the night in a cheap motel. Most of the participants who choose to be transported to Project ROSE rather than jail are not budding capitalists, but exploited victims. Project ROSE offers these people an opportunity to exit the sex trade and avoid the stigma of a prostitution conviction.

    As a footnote, I am a former member of the Scottsdale Human Relations Commission, the Phoenix Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force, and the U.S. Attorney’s Hate Crimes Task Force have also been a participant in each of the 6 Project ROSE events. Project ROSE mentors include transgendered individuals and I would not be associated with Project ROSE if I believed transgendered persons were targeted.

  3. Pingback: Monica Jones, AZ Transgender Woman convicted of Walking While Trans | The TransAdvocate

  4. Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated.

    I posted it to the largest LGBT Group on LinkedIn with over 25,200+ global members to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup.

    Link to group >> http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=63687

    All LGBT+ and community allies…. please come join me and 25,200+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world’s countries.

    It’s core value is – Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe’s largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT – or a welcomed community ally.

    • I want to cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can be lethal in defense, and have removed child abusers and armed violent persons from society, and will be first in line to “bring people to justice”, however I will also be first in line to shout “No you can’t!!!!!!!!!!! and No I won’t let you!!!!!!!!!” when injustice puts on a fake mask of justice.

      Long ago, it became very clear that social media, despite its failings, is open to judicial review, in the sense that public postings are not concealed and the reality that what we have to say, assuming cogent thought + credibility (which is why many of us write the way we do) has and will continue to play a role in at least convincing legal players to adopt a perspective in breadth and depth that just might have them take another look. One comment not unlike one vote or one person, in today’s public social discussion could very well make a difference. Truly we will never know, who specifically reads what we have to say, but make no mistake others are. Of course, this can also be detrimental when comments actually rise to enforceable level. “Manifesting prostitution” is seriously a charge? I will pray that Monica comes out victorious and manifests her own destiny!

      Prostitution is prostitution, no manifesting anything required which is why the trial has been postponed. The judge probably couldn’t resist an East to West smirk and probably played this word game: “manifesting murder”, “manifesting theft”, “manifesting speeding”, and realized that in his very presence was either a (1) car salesman (2) fake Christian, or (3) politician and the gavel and desktop quickly fell in love. This is why judges are required to be soaked through and through with “lawyering” experience, a requirement undoubtedly not enforced in other nations.

      Again, past history is always part of any current charges, but the very fact that “prostitution” requires help in the form of “manifesting” is already proof that those charging her uttered these very words just before applying stainless steel bracelets (our AF cuffs were combat black): “AbraCadabra”.

      Just as filing a false report is chargeable, filing false charges blessed with hocus pocus “manifest” is civilly accountable.

  5. If you read George Orwell’s “1984”, it is a sign of a Totalitarian State, when one is forced to be imprisoned or to accept Indoctrination [Brainwashing]. They are trying to tell people who are different from the majority, that they are made ‘wrong’..and that they should accept that, deny who they truly are, and attempt to Conform as much as possible. Pure Fascism. Pure Evil. #Americanistan

    • While I agree with your sentiment, I don’t think using another not-well-treated minority as a reference for Evil is helpful. Adding -istan to it pretty well generalises people from contries ending in that as what you percieve as evil. While some definately do have issues (The Afganistan you are probably thinking of) not all do, nor should we lump all their peoples in with them. As an oppressed group we should know, and act, better.

      • I didn’t reference another minority. I pointed out that what is happening here is a textbook sign of a Totalitarian State. All the ‘stan’ countries are Totalitarian States, where pple are completely controlled. Calling that an ‘issue’, is like calling the Grand Canyon a ‘big ditch’. Your kind of PC BS, tip toeing, and hiding your head in the sand..is what allows pple in power to do things like this, because they know pple like you will be apathetic, and so fearful that they’ll hesitate to even Verbally condemn Evil. ‘1984’ shows how rationalized indifference, like you are displaying, actually HELPS those who persecute minorities. You are an enabler. And those who prevent minorities from being persecuted, do NOT act like you. Try caring enough and having enough empathy, to actually get angry at how this person is being unjustly treated.

    • I apologize for how the article was written and for the grammatical errors. I work 10 hours a day in a warehouse and sometimes posting is something I do on the fly, like this morning. Monica just told me it was OK on facebook so that makes me feel better.

  6. ARIZONA HAS BIGGER PROBLEMS LIKE CHILD SEX HOUSES AND CRYSTAL METH … LEAVE THE GAYS AND TRANSGENDERS ALOONEEE!!!!

  7. I have read but a part of Jordan’s Facebook report. Immediately, the fact that Arizona is a lame duck state as far as national credibility is concerned comes to mind. Understandably, efforts to mitigate crime, particularly of a violent nature is what keeps our nation on balance more civilized than not. No less understandable is the black eye in our nation’s history that chronicles the targeting of based on race or other non-illegal human traits, often through enforcement, at times currently impacting the LGBT community as well.

    For a state to actually be governed by a legislative body that recently attempted a constitutional coup, in the name of religion under the guise of “religious freedom”, that not only proposed but actually ratified SB 1062 (would have eventually been overturned as a 14th Amendment violation) defies belief and rises to the level of being so egregious that future students of history will be left nothing short of aghast. In unison, the students will harmoniously proclaim “What the hell were they thinking?”

    Prosecution of criminal activity of course requires that the elements of the crime be completed—no elements, no crime, and the facts exist outside of direct knowledge of most of us. Concurrently though, is basic police academy 101, that “mere suspicion” ≠ to a crime. Laws that make condom possession illegal (wherever enacted) come to mind for example and are of course not lawful, particularly since it is prudent for all to possess protections against pregnancy and STDs in today’s world of HIV risk.

    Already, without finishing Jordan’s report (will finish later), to think that consensual sex even if for compensation rises to the level of a felony, not unlike crimes committed by the worst of the worst, particularly since a neighboring state conditionally permits same (Nevada), is so beyond a reasonable expectation of punishment that this is an obvious 8th Amendment violation that must be, without haste, challenged. Regulating human needs, needs declared as essential by by Abraham Maslow in 1943 through the penal code has never and never will be effective.

    Thankfully, Arizona has had in place other “punitive” measures such as diversion programs which contrast with felony convictions in that consensual sex is so low on the crime hierarchy that like drug use, diversion programs are an option. Felony convictions in a sexually-consensual context no matter the recidivism, clearly are 8th Amendment violations (cruel & unusual punishment) and are obviously rooted in vengeance for continual disrespect for the administration of justice.

    Once again, we see religion’s role as persecutor in trying to “pray the gay away”, and in daring to believe that religion is the solution while history records organized religion (not personal faith) is typically the problem (AB 1266 and Pastor Hibbs anyone?). Arizona government and religious institutions have clearly married, such that the wall of separation between church and state has been reduced to rubble. Diversion therapy, in defense of Arizona, is a great option. Apparently though, Arizona, as a government body, has made laws “respecting the establishment of religion” by diverting persons arrested for prostitution to a Catholic group. This of course brings the 1st Amendment into play. Assuming the accuracy of this story, coupled with the failed attempt at a constitutional coup (SB 1062), it is crystal clear that Arizona has become a hostile lame duck territory for LGBT residents, and must desist.

  8. aside from the clear unconstitutionality of this law, the blatant racism
    with which it is undoubtedly being applied, and the insane level of
    sexism necessary to even consider it anything but absolutely ludicrous,
    HOW IN THE HELL CAN THEY CLAIM SHE WAS ENGAGED IN PROSTITUTION, WITHOUT
    ANY FUCKING PROOF?!?!?! ffs, the burden of proof still rests with the
    state, and they only have “suspicion” to go on… wtf…

    • Because they default to “trans woman = prostitute”. There are laws in New York that state that if you are trans and have a condom on your person, you can be arrested for prostitution.

      • Not just trans in NY, they can use carrying a condom as justification for /anyone/ to claim prostitution. It is a ludicrous and vile law, with the added side benefit of making sex work, and sex in general, much more dangerous because it leads to people not using them to avoid implication. :(

    • “WITHOUT ANY FUCKING PROOF”

      Anything a cop says is proof and is truth – and cannot be challenged by the likes of un-badged peons who pay their salaries.

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