Monica Jones, a well-known transgender activist in Phoenix, was hanging out at Cruisin’ 7th Friday night, a popular trans watering hole, when a friend alerted her to a major night spoiler.
As reported in The Advocate, the Lyft driver who’d dropped her off, Paul Fiarkoski, had posted to a Facebook page for other local Lyft drivers: “Word of caution to the hetero males among you. I just dropped off a ‘lady’ of the evening named MONica at Cruisin 7th tavern. Notice the deliberate emphasis on mon. #gendermatters.”
Horrified and feeling unsafe with her location outed, Jones immediately left the bar, she says.
She complained to Lyft, which says that it cut the driver from its app, assured her that the company has an anti-discrimination policy and credited her $15.
But Jones says that Lyft should have screened him, and all applicants, better. “It’s important to illustrate that Lyft should have examined this driver just by checking his Facebook profile,” she says. “A quick look at this driver’s Facebook profile is all it takes to see he’s a transphobe. He is mocking trans women, like Caitlyn Jenner, and if he’s attacking her, of course he’s going to come after me, a trans woman of color.”
The incident calls attention to the problem of doxing, or posting private information about someone online.
It is also not the first time that Jones has experienced transgender discrimination. She was arrested and convicted in 2014 for “manifesting prostitution” after accepting a ride from an undercover cop during a prostitution sting. At the time, she was walking on the street talking with others, which, according to The Advocate, signaled an intent to solicit sex under a local ordinance. (An Arizona court later vacated the conviction, which became a cause celebre in the trans rights movement.)
That same year, traveling to Australia to do AIDS research toward her degree in social work, she was not allowed to enter the country because she was on a list of those considered a “possible threat.”