US: Trans woman to appeal against ‘manifesting prostitution’ charge

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A Phoenix trans woman who has found support from TV star Laverne Cox, has said she will appeal against a prostitution-related charge she was found guilty of earlier this year.

Monica Jones, an activist for sex-worker rights and member of Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, was arrested last May in a police sting for ‘manifestation of prostitution’.

She pleaded not guilty to the charge, and argued the law she was charged under was unconstitutional.

Jones’ attorneys will on Monday argue just that, and that her free speech was infringed under the charge.

Vice reported last year that she was arrested as part of Project ROSE and taken to Bethany Bible Church, which runs a religious rehabilitation programme that aims to ‘save’ sex workers.

Those that successfully complete the programme, some 30%, are not charged, but those who refuse to do so, or who do not complete the programme, are prosecuted.

The statute that Jones was arrested under, which bans ‘manifesting prostitution’, can prohibit everything from engaging in conversations with passers-by, to asking if someone is an undercover police officer.

Jones said: “You never see a heterosexual transgender man [accused].

“It targets women, especially women in poverty, and women of minority.”

She was found guilty on Friday.

A petition has been set up urging for the charges against Jones to be dropped.

The campaign, which has found support from Laverne Cox, star of Netflix’s ‘Orange is the New Black’, uses the hashtag #WeStandWithMonica