Arizona Trans Woman Arrested and Jailed for Self-Defense

Arizona is a “stand your ground” state. For those who don’t know, that means that if you feel threatened by someone, but you have the ability to safely retreat, you have no legal obligation to do so. You are allowed to stand your ground, and use violence. I mention that, because when it comes to self-defense law in the United States, if you claim self defense, in many circumstances, you won’t even be arrested for killing someone. Unfortunately, as with most laws in the United States, the degree to which that “protection” actually protects you will often depend on who you are, and what the cops think of you.

Case in point: A trans woman named Epona Rose was accosted by a group of men who sexually harassed her until realizing she was trans, at which point the harassment became threats and assault. Rose defended herself, and for that she was arrested and jailed with bond set at $500,750, with her arraignment on August 28th. For comparison, Donald Trump, who has a private plane and has “joked” about fleeing to Russia, had his bond set at less than half that. Further, for the crime of defending herself while trans, Rose has been charged with assault and attempted murder:

Flagstaff, AZ — On the morning of August 11th, Epona Rose was attacked in downtown Kinłani/Flagstaff, Arizona by a group of three men while two or more watched. The men were drunk and sexually harassing her. The attack escalated into threats of rape, and then to physical violence, when they realized that Epona is transgender.

Epona defended herself bravely against this attack and did not call the police, but she was the only one arrested. Epona faces felony charges including aggravated assault. She was initially held on the men’s side of the Coconino County Jail in segregation with one hour a day out of her cell. She struggled to gain access to her prescribed medications. Political pressure seems to have improved her conditions; however, Epona is still unable to receive equitable treatment and has filed complaints of sexual harassment. Epona’s arraignment is August 28th and her bond is set for over $500,000. A team of national organizers and local support have mobilized and are fiercely working to overturn such an excessive amount and the fear mongering charges.

An initial arraignment on August 17th was vacated with no reason given by the courts. A rally was held with more than 25 people calling for Epona’s immediate release. A vigil was held outside of Coconino County Jail the previous evening, more than 40 people attended, sharing their stories and chanting, “Who keeps up safe? We keep us safe!”

Epona shared this statement from jail:

I was charged as a man, as I am a woman of trans experience. I was initially booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault, as well as attempted homicide, second degree, unjustly. I was defending myself, my womanhood, against three men. While I’ve been in this facility I’ve been mistreated. I have been treated as a man. I have been asked fourteen times about my genitalia by staff. I have been laughed at and ridiculed. I have been put into isolation. Make no mistakes, the United States is now living in the Weimar Republic era. I have been fighting the way I can from the inside with what little power I have from the inside.

Epona further stated, “I am not safe here, but I am holding on to hope, and I know that I will be free. I want to thank everybody who has shown support and is fighting for me on the outside. Thank you, loved ones, relatives, comrades. I look forward to seeing you. Thank you so much for the fight. Solidarity!”

The longer Epona is in jail, the much more at risk she is exposed to as a trans woman and abolitionist. We cannot let Epona be made an example out of by demanding the basic rights of genderqueer, third gender, Two Spirit, and/or trans people to exist!

Epona’s lawyer, Ryan Stevens of the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm in Flagstaff, explained, “Our priorities are clear: keep Epona safe; get her out; and present a complete defense to her charges in court. We are at the very beginning of what may be a long haul fighting for Epona and asserting her rights in court, including self-defense.”

Arraignment is scheduled for August 28th at 1pm; Epona’s supporters will be gathering at Coconino County Superior Court located at 200 N San Francisco st, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Epona’s supporters are fundraising for her legal fees and associated costs; please specify that your donation is for Epona. You can also use the “rose” emoji.

Support Epona’s legal defense and bail fund:
Paypal: @brokebackwolfpack
Venmo: @brokebackwolfpack
Cashapp: $brokebackwolfpack

You can also contact the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and demand Epona is treated with dignity as a trans woman:

Phone: 928-679-7120

Toll Free: 877-679-7120 Emails:,,,,

Contact Flagstaff City Council:
All council members:
Phone: (928) 213-2065

There are a lot of problems with the US constitution, and with US law. One of the good things, even if it took almost a century and a civil war to get it, is the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [emphasis added]

My only real complaint about this is that it limits its protection to US citizens, rather than all people who find themselves under US jurisdiction. Other than that, this is good and important, and so naturally it’s often ignored by the US law enforcement system. There are many, many ways in which equal protection is denied to US citizens. I’m not talking hundreds of times per year, I’m talking thousands of times per day, across the country. The “trans panic” defense is one of the most heinous examples – a trans person (usually a woman) is assaulted or murdered, and the perpetrator claims that they “panicked” upon learning she was trans, and attacked her. This has existed for a long time, in a variety of forms. So far, the federal ban on this defense hasn’t gotten anywhere, but 17 states have passed their own bans, with New Hampshire being the latest, just 10 days ago (rare Sununu win). The NH ban only applies to homicides, though, so it won’t help people who were “just” assaulted. Arizona is not on that list, and the “panic” defense is still perfectly legal there.

Rose’s case feels as if the police took that “defense” as a matter of law, which made the violence of her attackers justified. That meant that, in the eyes of the police, Epona Rose had no right to self-defense in that situation. The police, and the judge who set a bail of – and I can’t stress this enough – over half a million dollars, have decided to punish her for defending herself, before the trial that is her right has even started. I also have to wonder what role her personal politics are playing in this – my impression is that people in the law enforcement system don’t like abolitionists, despite working so hard to make our case for us.

If you want to help in any way, all the information is in the block quote above. Hopefully Monday’s arraignment won’t be pushed back again, since that would mean still more time imprisoned and abused for defending herself. The extremely high trans murder rate (trans women of color in particular) is something that does get press, albeit far less than it should, but it’s also worth remembering that for every trans person murdered, there are others who are “merely” injured, and that almost never makes the news. This problem is not separate from the way the US “justice” system actively enables this violence, and even enacts this violence, as we are seeing in the case of Enola Rose.


  1. dangerousbeans says

    Reminds me of CeCe McDonald’s situation. This shit keeps happening, we’re not even allowed to defend ourselves

  2. says

    Not surprising. Historically, gun laws have been used to make sure The Wrong People don’t arm themselves. One example the comes to mind from California in the 1960s: Back when the Black Panthers advocated for Black people to get guns, the not-yet-GQP enacted gun control laws that just happened to make it more difficult for Black folks to acquire handguns. Funny how that works.

    “Stand your ground” laws are more of the same, IMAO.

  3. says

    @dangerousbeans – yeah, I should’ve mentioned that. Thanks for bringing it up.

    I find all of this exhausting and infuriating, and I’m a cis dude. I can only imagine what it’s like for you. It’s inexcusable what you have to deal with just to live life.

  4. dangerousbeans says

    I’m sure there are other examples of this we haven’t heard about
    Anyway, another example of how police uphold power rather than protecting people

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