(UPDATE-2 — She’s out of jail!) Racial-gender profiling by motel triggers TWOC jailing for being trans

meagan taylorLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — Update-2 July 22, 2015. Meagan Taylor has been released from jail. From The Advocate:

Meagan Taylor, the 22-year-old black trans woman who spent the past two weeks in a segregated cell at Polk County Jail in Des Moines, walked out of that facility today, according to advocates who have been calling for her release. 

“I’m ecstatic to be released,” Taylor told the Transgender Law Center, which is currently investigating the possibility of litigation surrounding allegations that hotel workers and police profiled the black trans woman as a sex worker. “Words cannot express the way I feel to be out. I want to thank everyone who shared my story, and let people know that I am going to seek justice for what they did profiling me as a Black transgender woman.”

——-

Update-1 – July 20, 2015 — Press release from Welcome Ministry includes an interview with Meagan Taylor:

The comments from Taylor in this press release are statements Meagan Taylor approved for sharing with the press and supporters.  They were transcribed in a web conference on July 19, 2015 from her isolation cell, by Pastor Megan Rohrer.

Meagan Nicole Taylor, is a transgender woman who lives in St. Louis.  While on a trip with a friend, a hotel manager called the police (possibly twice), because Taylor’s identification did not match the name and gender identity that Taylor has used with family and friends for years.  

“What happened to me, was definitely based on my gender.  Transgender people are being gender and racially profiled and it has to stop,” Taylor said. 

Woken up by a knock at the hotel door around 9 am, Taylor was taken into custody because she did not have the prescription for her hormone treatments with her and for how she spoke to the officers, whom she felt were unjustly arresting her.  

Thinking back on her arrest, Taylor says: “To the woman at the hotel and police officers who arrested me, I have no ill will towards you.  I think God will take care of it and help you gain more education about transgender individuals.  LGBTQ individuals are very happy and peaceful people.”

Taylor was told that she would be held without release until trial, scheduled for August 10, 2015 and was feeling frustrated that she would not be able to prove that she had a prescription for her medications for nearly a month.  On top of the $2,000 bond for Taylor’s release, $500 fine from a 2010 offense had tripled due to fees and penalties and a warrant from Illinois could not be dropped until the $1,713.20 fine was paid in full.

The Welcome Ministry, led by the transgender Lutheran pastor Megan Rohrer, has raised $3,601 as of 9:12 am on July 19th and will be working with Taylor’s aunt to pay both the fines in Iowa and Illinois.  [See “interview link” below.]

“Raised in the Midwest and a frequent traveler,” Rohrer said, “I often fear that what happened to Meagan will happen to me.  I hope Meagan’s story raises awareness, so that this never happens in Iowa or anywhere else in the country again.”

“Think about if one of your kids was transgender.  What would you do?  And, how would you want society to treat them?” said Taylor.

Welcome’s goal is to pay the fines and hopefully get Taylor release on Monday morning.  When she is released, supporters plan to have some of Taylor’s favorite foods on hand (hot pickle, fried chicken and shrimp).

“I am thankful for all the support,” said Taylor, who was moved to tears by the outpouring of support from over 80 donors and the transgender artists who had been forwarding information about the cause along on twitter. 

Any additional funds, above the amount needed to pay for the fees for Taylor’s release will be used to support LGBTQ homeless individuals in San Francisco and projects to uplift the voices of transgender individuals living in poverty. 

“Meagan has a family that loves and supports her and a strong desire to support other LGBTQ individuals who are vulnerable, facing discrimination and in need of support.  After we get Meagan out of jail and she gets some rest, Welcome will continue to help her tell her story,” said Pastor Rohrer.

——

(Original article – July 19, 2015:) A trans woman of color got slammed with a double whammy after checking into the Drury Inn in West Des Moines, Iowa earlier this week.

Meagan Taylor, an out-of-state visitor, paid for her room and was visiting a friend. Staff at the motel, however, called the police about “two males dressed as females” and “possible prostitution activity.”

Police went to the room but found no prostitution activity. They did however, decided to arrest Taylor anyway for a few minor and completely unrelated things — the giving of a fake name, and an unmarked bottle of prescription drugs (hormone pills says Taylor). She was also charged with owing a $500 fine in another state.

Although Taylor only needed to post $200 to get bailed out of jail, a bureaucratic hurdle has made it extremely difficult. The sheriff, confused over proper housing protocol for trans inmates, placed her in isolation after she failed to make bail. She also doesn’t have an attorney yet according to the news report and at this writing, remains in jail.

Taylor in an interview with the Des Moines Register: “It seemed like they were trying to find something to charge me with. I lied about my name [but] I was not doing any illegal activity. The lady called police because I was transgender and was with a transgender friend.”

The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu in an op-ed: “There is… no good reason for a 22-year-old nonviolent person like Taylor to be locked up indefinitely. “Maybe the real offense is a private business calling police on paying guests because they didn’t conform to gender stereotypes.”

—–

The whole legality of this arrest is dubious, but the moral here is if you’re black and trans, don’t open the door if the police don’t have a warrant — even people who will gladly take your money will call the cops if they don’t like what they see.

Released from jail: http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2015/07/22/black-trans-woman-meagan-taylor-released-iowa-jail

Interview: http://sfwelcomeministry.blogspot.com/2015/07/arrested-for-being-transgender-meagan.html

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/rekha-basu/2015/07/16/arrested-transgender-sex-inmate-tests-jailers/30269945/

meagan taylor

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11 replies

  1. Meagan needs to do one more thing. Go to the ACLU and file a law suit against the hotel.

  2. Remind me to never go to Iowa for vacation. Besides, all they have is corn!

  3. Although the original call was made because a person was suspicious, the arrest was based on outstanding warrants and lying to the police. How is that unfair? It is the job of police to arrest people who have broken the laws, whereas hurt feelings are not the basis of a reasonable lawsuit. Would the arrest still be unfair if the person were someone white who did conform to traditional gender roles? If you have a double standard, then perhaps we should examine who is being unfair.

    • In all fairness to both of us. My remarks are based on the information provided here and there is nowhere it mentioned the fact that you are stating. If you’re right, then yes the police needs to act quickly and responsibly to detain someone who has committed a crime. Once again, why wasn’t the facts that you state not reported? One can only comment on something based on information on hand. My comment about corn indicative of all things in Iowa. Besides, Chris Soules comes from Iowa, and he isn’t bad at all! 🙂

    • “the original call was made because a person was suspicious”
      –And that’s why I’ve decided to call the FBI on the motel business in Iowa, because I suspect the fine, upstanding innkeeper believed them to be non-pass “working girls” and wasn’t getting his kickback. As a matter of fact, all of the states with corn in them make me “suspicious”, and I can’t believe the US hasn’t turned itself in for unpaid fines, not “warrants”.
      Not even “warrant”: “the arrest was based on outstanding warrants”

      But I guess I’m the luckiest person in the world, because lately all I’ve to do with civil authorities rather than lying about my name is convincing them of the truth, which in some cases may be “Yes, I have a prescription for that” or “That person can cut your head off, forget it completely, and blame you for it the next day”. Yet these statements aren’t based on suspicion because someone doesn’t “conform to traditional gender roles”, looks funny, or leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but upon recognized authority and observation of behavior supported by others.

      Although I have no idea what “bureaucratic hurdle” has complicated her release and (counter to law via failure to institute the Prison Rape Elimination Act, PREA) “placed her in isolation” “to be locked up indefinitely”; and even considering motel keepers are bound to report suspicious activity, I doubt the SC would find “an important governmental interest” would be placed in jeopardy under these circumstances, and thus protection against unreasonable search and seizure would be abridged and her 4th Amendment rights would be deemed to have been infringed.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Warrant

      Overall though, I find the response to this occurrence to be positive, and while I’m certain appropriate accommodations would be provided for me now (and it wouldn’t matter if they weren’t), I find it uplifting that someone else might not have their sentence extended illegally and be placed in solitary confinement for not appearing in a manner comfortable to the suspicious: abridgement of Constitutional rights isn’t “hurt feelings”, it’s the destruction of the law.

      • “bureaucratic hurdle” = Meagan is an out of state resident and needs someone who lives in the state to sign off on the bail. She doesn’t know anyone in the state. And still in jail as I write this.

    • Kristen, The question to ask is this: Would the motel have called if the person was a white cis person? Police can’t arrest people based on the say so of a person making the complaint — there has to be evidence of a crime or a witness. The police determined there was neither. Right here a smart supervising officer at the precinct would realized they were called upon the scene by a citizen who did a bit of erroneous stereotyping/profiling at best, or a flat out bigot at worst, and order the officers to leave. Continuing to look for means to arrest this person puts this police department in the same shady cast as the person who called the cops in the first place. CLEARLY the motel clerk had zero evidence of a crime other than her stereotyping.

      If an actual crime was taking place — or if the police had a warrant, then this story would not have been written.

  4. And yes, as Monica Jones and countless other trans women of color have proven, being nonwhite and trans is enough to get you messed with or arrested.

    Your ‘Officer Friendly’ is my ‘Officer Oppressor’

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