Laverne Cox's Latest Project: Challenging 'Walking While Trans' Law
Time cover girl, LGBT activist, and Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox is using her celebrity clout to stand up against a Phoenix, Arizona law that unfairly targets trans women and women of color. Transgender activist Monica Jones was arrested in April under an ordinance meant to combat “manifest prostitution.” How can you violate this ordinance? By as little as attempting to talk to a passerby or waving at a car. Seriously.
Jones’ legal team claims that Phoenix police have used the law to profile transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, on the basis of a belief that they’re more likely to be sex workers.
“If I was a white woman . . .I would have never been stopped for manifestation,” Jones said in a statement. “This law gives police the right to target anyone they feel fit to target.”
The Advocate refers to Jones’ conviction as ‘walking while trans.’
Now Cox is joining the ACLU and Jones’ legal team to fight her conviction and overturn the ordinance. On Twitter and Instagram, Cox posted a photo of herself with Jones under the hashtag #StandwithMonica to drum up support against the prejudicial law.
“[The law] basically means that as a trans woman of color walking in a certain neighborhood, you can be arrested for prostitution,” Cox said at the annual GLAAD awards in April, shortly after Jones’ arrest. “There is so much work that needs to get done to make sure this never happens again.”
The first step is raising awareness and that’s exactly what Cox is doing. She joined Jones in Arizona for a press conference on Tuesday, to speak out about the issue.
“I was really distressed that I felt that enough people weren’t talking about this case nationally,” Cox said. “So often our identities as trans women of color are stigmatized and criminalized, and so I just sort of felt like it was my duty. I had to be here, and I was just so moved by (Jones’s) courage.”