Atlanta, GA
I met Ramona in midtown a couple of hours after she got out of jail on a prostitution charge. 

Ramona: I got arrested for prostitution. My friend called me and said she was gonna be in town and said she didn’t really have any money. I told her I could show her how to get some. She’s also transgender like me. She wasn’t from here so she wouldn’t know where to go by herself, so I accompanied her. 

[We arrived] downtown and a car came up and asked me to meet him around the corner. My friend said she really didn’t trust it. I said, “let’s just go back their and see if he meets us back there.” So, we walk to the backstreet and he’s waiting there. He doesn’t call my sister over to the car, he calls me, so I go over there. I never get in the car or anything. We’re just talking through the window. 

I noticed another guy in the car. So, there’s a black guy driving and a white guy in the passenger seat. He said “Me and my buddy are looking for some fun.” So, he starts describing that his buddy wanted to watch us or whatever. 

So, I was like, that’s a little weird. First of all, why is a black guy and a white man just driving around and they’re like in a car with tinted windows and like… rims on it and everything. So I asked them what they were doing together. He’s like, “We go to Georgia Tech. I told him I was transgender. He was like, “That’s even better.” He said that’s what they were looking for.

He was like, “How much money you want?” I asked how much he had. So, he was like, “Is $200 OK?” 

As he’s saying this, I notice a cop car at the corner we just came from. So, I immediately stop the conversation and I look around for my friend and I don’t see her. So, I start to walk away from the car. I got about ten foot steps from the car and there was a squad of police cars. The cops surround me and [the undercover] pulls off. 

As they surround me, they snatch the phone out of my hand. Took my purse and handcuffed me. I’m trying to stay strong. I don’t want to break down and cry. I’m hoping for the best. It was my first offense so I thought maybe they’d let me go. 

Now, being transgender in jail… First of all, my ID says that I’m a female. So, I get to the city jail. They asked me if I was all woman. I said no. At this point all of the officers are like staring at me like I’m a freak of nature. They put me in an open space where you can call people or whatever. Men are sitting in one section and women are sitting in another section. They didn’t know where to put me.  They put me with the males. Every guy CO that walked past me was like, “you don’t belong here. Go sit over there.” I had to explain to every officer that I’m transgender. 

So, it comes time to go to court and they put all the males in one tank and all the females in another tank. They separated me out. Every guy goes in front of the judge and every girl goes in front of the judge. Everyone had been seen but me. I bang on the window and ask if they’re gonna see me. The officer went over to the public defender and they’re like, “yeah the he/she over there is wondering what’s up.” The public defender looks over and gives me attitude and says, “Send him/her, whatever it is, out.”  

So, I go before the judge and he [calls me] him, he, Mr. in front of the whole courtroom. I was embarrassed. 

I have an out of town ID. Because of that they gave me a $2300 bond. They told me that the charge carries fifteen days for the first offense and a $250 fine. So, I could either plead guilty to the charge or reset my court date for fifteen days away. So, I was going to do the fifteen days whether I was guilty or not.

After spending fifteen days in jail, the officer didn’t show up for court and all charges against Ramona were dismissed. 

Part of these collections: Coming Out + Sex Work