In New York, there’s an anti-loitering statute that has come to be known colloquially as the “Walking While Trans” ban. Advocates say that the law, which is ostensibly meant to target sex workers, allows officers to arbitrarily arrest and detain New Yorkers for simply walking around or standing on the street. It allows police to decide, for instance, that a woman’s skirt is too short, or that she’s been lingering too long on one street corner, and to apprehend her based on suspicion that she’s “loitering for the purpose of prostitution.” Trans women — and particularly trans women of color — are disproportionately targeted this way, activists say. “Whether you are ho-ing or not ho-ing, even if you look like you might be trans, you are going to jail,” Tiffaney Grissom, a trans woman from the Bronx who has been arrested multiple times under the law, told The Village Voice in 2016.
For years, activists have called for the law to be repealed — a demand that has recently gained unpreceden