Meagan Taylor, a Black transgender woman whose story made headlines when she was arrested after checking into an Iowa hotel and then held in isolation at the Polk County Jail, has been released after over a week in custody. This news follows advocacy by local groups, national organizations, and a pastor who raised the money for her bail.
“We are relieved and thrilled that Meagan is finally free, but know that her story is all too common,” said Flor Bermudez, Esq., Director of the Detention Project at Transgender Law Center, which helped advocate for Meagan’s release. “Black transgender women are regularly viewed as criminals in public spaces, triggering unlawful arrests. In the vast majority of cases, transgender women are jailed in facilities that do not know how to house them safely and humanely.”
When Meagan checked in at the Drury Inn, she presented her Illinois ID, which has her legal name and a male gender marker. The hotel later called the police to her room. Many transgender women lack access to accurate IDs that reflect their gender identity. The police charged her for having hormones without a prescription, among other charges, though her prescription was at her home in Illinois.
“I’m ecstatic to be released,” Meagan told Transgender Law Center. “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.”
Many advocates and organizations, including the ACLU of Iowa, local activists Kaija Carter, Tony Tyler, and Mira Bellwether, and San Francisco-based Pastor Megan Rohrer, came together to work for Meagan’s release. Even after bail was raised, an outstanding warrant related to a fine in Illinois prevented her release, and Transgender Law Center worked to vacate that warrant.
Transgender Law Center is working with Meagan to explore next steps, including possible litigation.
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.