Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trans Woman Settles Discrimination Complaint Against West Des Moines Hotel

Remember Meagan Taylor? She is a trans woman from Illinois who stopped at a hotel in West Des Moines, IA, last July while traveling to a funeral for a friend. Almost immediately, the hotel staff at the Drury Inn called the police to report Taylor and her friend because they were "men dressed like women." So they must be prostitutes.

Taylor was arrested and charged with possessing medicine without a prescription (i.e., her hormone treatment) and malicious prosecution. She spent the next eight days in solitary confinement (i.e., the jail's medical unit) until others were able to raise money to pay for bail, as well as an outstanding fine connected to an unrelated credit card fraud case. The charges that led to Taylor's arrest were eventually dropped by Polk County prosecutors.

Meagan Taylor -- with the assistance of the Iowa ACLU -- filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission against the Drury Inn on 11/09/15. We learned yesterday and Taylor and her attorneys successfully settled this case.

From the Des Moines Register:
“The ACLU of Iowa is pleased to report we have successfully settled Meagan Taylor’s case to the satisfaction of the parties involved,” the post read.

The ACLU declined to comment on the details of the settlement or whether or not the parties are bound by a confidentially agreement.“We can’t provide any more information or greater detail,” said Veronica Fowler, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Iowa.
From the ACLU of Iowa website:
When Meagan Taylor and her best friend — both young, Black, trans women — stopped at a hotel in Des Moines on the way to a funeral, they expected to check-in, spend the night, and be on their way. 

What happened instead should be a chilling reminder of the deadly intersection of racism and transphobia that so many Black transgender people are forced to navigate... 

There was no evidence of prostitution — just two Black trans women sleeping in a hotel room the morning before a funeral. Meagan was arrested for possessing hormone therapy pills without a copy of the prescription and spent eight days in the local jail before she was bailed out. All charges were eventually dropped, but the experience has left its mark on Meagan. 

Like so many transgender people, Meagan has not had access to the medical and financial resources necessary to update the name and gender marker on her state identification. This meant that when she checked into the Drury Inn, even though she is a woman, the Illinois state identification that she presented listed her as male and under her birth name. The lack of congruent identification immediately outed Meagan as transgender to complete — and hateful — strangers... 

Meagan was arrested not because there was any evidence that she was engaging in sex work but because she had hormone pills in her possession without a prescription. 
You can read the rest of their statement here.

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