Eastern Iowa Solidarity Statement for Meagan Taylor

On Monday, July 13, 2015, Meagan Taylor and a friend checked into a room at the Drury Inn, in West Des Moines, IA. Upon checking in, Taylor noticed staff acting “really funny” around her and her friend. Shortly thereafter, staff at the Drury Inn called the West Des Moines police, reporting “two males dressed as females” and expressing concerns about “possible prostitution activity.” Although police found no evidence of prostitution activity upon arrival, they arrested Taylor after discovering an outstanding probation violation in Illinois for an unpaid fine stemming from a conviction more than 5 years ago. Police charged Taylor with “malicious prosecution” for supplying a false Missouri identification and for possession of spironolactone hydrochloride – an antiandrogen common in hormone replacement therapy for trans women – without a prescription.

While being processed by the Polk County Jail, Taylor reports her upper body was patted down by a female officer, while her lower body was patted down by a male officer. At Taylor’s request, she was placed in protective custody in the medical unit, after Jail officials chose not to place her in the male unit for her safety, but refused to place her in the female unit with the other women.

Meagan Taylor’s story is one all too familiar for trans women living in the United States, who are pathologized and whose gender identity is treated with suspicion at all levels of society, from medical professionals to police. Trans women, in particular trans women of color, are not only disproportionately subjected to physical violence, but also are subjected to implicit violence that manifests itself in unfounded suspicions, profiling, and detention. Meagan Taylor drew suspicion from the staff at the Drury Inn not because of her actions, but merely because of her gender identity coupled with her race. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, are often profiled as sex workers by the public and police due to fetishization and sexualization of trans bodies. Upon arriving at the Polk County Jail, Meagan Taylor was subjected to degrading treatment by jail officials due to suspicion over her gender identity.

The charges levied against Meagan Taylor reflect the ingrained transphobia inherent in both the criminal justice system and the barriers erected by society against trans people. Legally changing one’s name can be a difficult and lengthy process. In Illinois, this process requires repeated publication of the name change, requiring trans people to “out” themselves in order to legally change their name. Even more difficult can be the process of changing one’s gender on official documents. Often, in order for trans people to use names of their choosing, they are forced into situations where their chosen name does not reflect their legal name, and sometimes this includes the use of false identification. Not having access to identification that reflects trans people’s chosen names and their gender identity potentially creates dangerous situations where trans people must out themselves in order to provide identification. Trans women are all too familiar with the danger this may create, particularly in interactions with the police.

Meagan’s second charge, possession of a prescription drug without a prescription, reflects the struggle of trans people to receive adequate healthcare. Trans people face staggering levels of poverty, unemployment, and permanent economic disenfranchisement. Even for those fortunate enough to have health insurance, most insurance does not explicitly cover transgender healthcare needs, including prescription medications. In order to get medications they need, many trans people may be forced to seek out hormones and other necessary prescriptions from illegal sources, including sources that may be unreliable and dangerous.

We join the scores of other voices condemning the profiling, treatment, arrest, and incarceration of Meagan Taylor and demanding restorative action on the part of the Drury Inn. We stand in solidarity with Meagan Taylor and all trans women of color across the United States whose daily lived reality is one filled with suspicion, harassment, and violence.

Eastern Iowa Local,
Black Rose Anarchist Federation/Federacion Anarquista Rosa Negra