Meagan Taylor was visiting Des Moines with a friend. They checked in to the Drury Inn. Meagan, 22, is a hair stylist and a student, but the staff at the Drury felt they knew the truth. Since Meagan and her friend were black trans women, the staff called the West Des Moines Police to report that two males dressed as females had checked in and there was possible prostitution activity (see this rant).
Taylor and her friend were not actually engaged in sex work, but Taylor was nonetheless placed under arrest when police found an outstanding probation violation from Illinois for credit card fraud, according to the Register. Taylor explained to the paper she had served time at age 17 for the charge, but the probation violation stemmed from her not yet paying $500 in fines.
Police also determined that Meagan had checked in to the hotel under a name not her own...which is not a crime, that she had a Missouri ID in her purse (even though she is an Illinois resident) and that she was in possession of spironolactone hydrochloride, but did not have a prescription for the drug. Spiro is a diuretic that has a side effect of being a testosterone antagonist. Many trans women take this drug during hormone therapy. At one time I took 16 25-mg pills of it a day (400 mg total).
Taylor was also charged with "malicious prosecution", a strange but serious misdemeanor (a person who causes or attempts to cause another to be indicted or prosecuted for any public offense).
Meagan was taken to the Polk County Jail.
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.
Black trans women face a poverty rate that is six times that of their cisgender (nontrans) peers, and a number do engage in sex work for survival. The issue with Taylor's case, as the Register points out, is not whether she's ever engaged in sex work, but that hotel staff automatically assumed she was because she was a trans woman, and police appeared to do the same.
Taylor could now be held "for months, as she cannot afford to pay her $2000 bail. While the jail has housed trans female inmates before, McCarthy said that the others had paid bail and left within a day. With Taylor's indefinitely long stay, officials are unsure of where to house her, and have temporarily placed her in a medical unit without a cellmate.
--Polk County sheriff Bill McCarthy
Taylor has a court date of August 25.
Meaghan Rohrer is a transgender Lutheran minister who was born and raised in South Dakota but now lives in San Francisco. Rohrer set out to raise Taylor's bail and as of last night had raised $2173. Then a new goal was set of $3731.20 to also be able to pay the remainder of what Taylor owes for the unpaid fine in Illinois.
Rohrer said she didn’t know Taylor’s background or the circumstances of her arrest, but she wants Taylor to be able to get out of jail, find a lawyer and “make her own decisions about how to proceed.”
Rohrer heard about Taylor from a college friend who has stayed at the same hotel.
Meanwhile Kaija Carter organized a protest outside the Drury Inn. The protestors want Taylor freed and the hotel "to commit to training and development for hotel staff regarding positive interactions with LGBTQ communities and communities of color."
Drury Inn targeted (Taylor) just because of the way she looked. That isn’t OK, so we’re putting them on notice and we’re putting West Des Moines on notice.