Transgender woman settles in court after profiling landed her in jail

Megan Taylor has settled her lawsuit against the Iowa hotel that got her put in jail.

Megan Taylor has settled her lawsuit against the Iowa hotel that got her put in jail. Whitney Curtis/ACLU of Iowa

A Black transgender woman who spent 8 days in jail after being falsely accused of prostitution by the hotel she was staying at has settled her lawsuit against the Iowa hotel in court, The Guardian reports. The details of the settlement have not been released due to a confidentiality agreement.

Meagan Taylor checked into the Drury Inn in West Des Moines, Iowa, last July with a friend—also a Black transgender woman—during a trip to Kansas City for a funeral. But despite the somber, and fairly typical, reason for their stay, hotel staff called police to report that the two women were “two men” engaged in prostitution after seeing that Taylor’s ID included her birth name and “male” gender marker. It’s not uncommon for transgender people’s ID not to match their gender identity or presentation due to the challenges associated with changing gender on personal identity documents.

When police arrived, they arrested Taylor for charges including not having her hormone prescription with her. She was jailed for eight days and the charges were later dropped.

“Meagan’s case garnered national attention and has been an important reminder to those in the criminal justice system and who run businesses and other public accommodations in Iowa that transgender people are explicitly protected by our civil rights laws from discriminatory treatment,” Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director, told The Guardian. Iowa is one of just 16 states that provides such protections. “Given the attack on transgender people happening across the country, we in Iowa are proud and thankful to work in a place where transgender people are afforded dignity and protection under our state law.”

Taylor’s isn’t the first high-profile case of profiling trans women of color as prostitutes. Arizona trans activist Monica Jones was arrested in 2014 while walking down the street with friends for “manifesting prostitution.” Though she was convicted, that conviction was later vacated.

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