Imani Henry is a transman located in New York City. Henry is currently campaigning against an Arizona diversion program intended to help Women exit prostitution. Project ROSE offers Women arrested for prostitution offenses a way out of prostitution if they choose and enables them to access services ranging from mental help to medical assistance. Henry wants to remove funding for Project ROSE because a Man who identifies as a Woman, Monica Jones, was arrested for prostitution offenses and declined to participate in Project Rose. Jones is a choice sex worker who is also a student at Arizona State University, which makes him privileged over the majority of Women in prostitution who lack the choices he has.
In other words, Henry, a transgender activist, wants to destroy a program that actually helps Women.
A transgender woman “sex worker” and third wave feminist supporters of the sex industry protested a prostitution diversion initiative outside a Phoenix church that intends to help Women victimized by prostitution and male violence.
The Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative, which acts as an alternative to criminal charges for arrested sex industry workers, was opposed by the pro-trans Phoenix Sex Worker Organizing Project (SWOP), led by third wave feminist women like this, who believe “sex work” is empowering:
As a part of the initiative, Phoenix police and students from the ASU School of Social Work team up twice a year to arrest local women arrested for prostitution-related offenses and have them choose between a six month diversion program or criminal charges.
According to SWOP, Project ROSE and other diversion programs that require women to attend educational and support groups “ignore the fact that many people who work in the sex industry are not victims in need of rescue, but consenting adults who should not be arrested, coerced into diversion, or incarcerated for working.”
Here is a man who consents to prostitute himself:
Monica Jones is angry because he was arrested by an undercover cop and taken to the Project ROSE site. He is a transgender woman of color who attends the Arizona State university School of Social Work and is being charged with “manifestation” and faces up to 30 days to six months in jail for just accepting a ride from a stranger and asking him if he was a cop when he would not let him out of the car when he asked to leave.
The Project Phoenix website says that prostitution is many women’s means to survive, and if provided new opportunities, the majority of women would gladly leave the industry.
Operation Street Light president Lea Benson feels the reasoning behind the protest doesn’t hold true for most women involved.
“We help young women beginning at age 13 who get involved in sex work. What these girls don’t realize is that they are victims. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to do this,” Benson said.
Proposers of Project Phoenix believe that this is possible by raising awareness of prostitution and providing support for women involved in prostitution.
Janice Raymond was no-platformed from a discussion about the sex industry and the importance of a law against sex purchases by the Norweigian Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman. Professor Raymond was invited to Oslo to be one of the speakers at a debate on sex purchasing on August 28. Professor Raymond (Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies and Medical Ethics at the University of Massachusetts) is one of the foremost researchers in the international sex industry and trafficking of women. (She is the author of the recent Not a Choice, Not a Job: Exposing the Myths about Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, Spinifex Press.)