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.
The news follows advocacy by local groups, national organizations, and a pastor who raised money for her bail.
“We’re relieved and thrilled that Meagan’s finally free, but 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 don’t 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.
Taylor is ecstatic to be released. “Words cannot express the way I feel to be out,” she said.”I want to thank everyone who shared my story, and let people know that I am going to seek justice.”
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.
Meagan is exploring next steps, including possible litigation.