Thursday, July 23, 2015

In the News: The Advocate


Meagan Taylor
Meagan Taylor

Freed From Iowa Jail, Black Trans Woman Meagan Taylor Speaks

The black trans woman tells The Advocate about facing transphobia daily, her battle ahead, and the unusual part a county jail played in working toward justice.

BY 

 


Meagan Taylor, the 22-year-old black trans woman arrested and jailed last Monday after allegedly being profiled as a sex worker by Drury Inn staff as well as local police in West Des Moines, Iowa, paid her bail and fees Tuesday, and was released from Polk County Jail in Des Moines Wednesday.

What's more, the $20,000 warrant that had been issued in her name — which sought to ensure that she appeared at an upcoming Illinois court date to address a fine she missed paying for a five-year-old credit card fraud conviction — has been vacated, reports the Transgender Law Center. That Oakland, Calif.–based organization will represent Taylor moving forward, as she considers litigation stemming from her nearly two-week incarceration on unfounded charges of prostitution in Iowa.

As of Wednesday morning, Taylor was set to be extradited from Iowa to Illinois to address that 2010 conviction, for which Taylor served her full sentence at the age of 17. The charge, separate from the allegations that led to her arrest in Iowa, originally carried a $500 fee, which had since grown to $1,713 in the intervening years. When Iowa police ran Taylor's information in Des Moines, they became aware of the outstanding warrant in Illinois.

Des Moines activists Mira Bellweather, Tony Tyler, and Kaija Carter expressed concern to The Advocate that if Taylor had been extradited, she could have been held with male prisoners on the transit vehicle and in jails along the way, opening her up to possible physical and sexual assault. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chase Strangio adds that that St. Clair County Jail in Illinois — where Taylor could have been detained over the weekend while awaiting her scheduled August 10 court appearance — has a history of institutional violence towards trans women.

In Des Moines, Taylor was held on a $2,276 bail, which she was able to pay — in addition to the $1,713 fee from the former charge — Tuesday with funds raised online by San Francisco-based trans pastor Megan Rohrer. The receipt confirming payment of the fee connected to the 2010 fraud charge was faxed Tuesday to Taylor's probation officer in Illinois by the Transgender Law Center, Taylor tells The Advocate.

Now that those outstanding fees have been paid, all legal matters relating to Taylor's Illinois probation violation have been settled. She is due to appear in court back in Iowa August 26, when a judge will consider charges related to Taylor carrying her transition-related medication without a prescription, and "malicious prosecution" — a "serious misdemeanor" defined as "a person who causes or attempts to cause another to be indicted or prosectued for any public offense."

Taylor will get legal counsel through the Transgender Law Center, which indicated to The Advocate that it is still investigating whether it's possible to get the Iowa charges dropped, as Taylor maintains she has a prescription for the medication — she just wasn't traveling with it. It is unclear whether the "malicious prosecution" charge is related to the outstanding Illinois warrant, which police informed Taylor of during her arrest.


Taylor was released at 11:44 a.m. Central time Wednesday, Rohrer tells The Advocate. The pastor's fundraiser, hosted on the San Francisco-based Welcome Ministry's website, had raised more than $5,500 at press time. An expenditure breakdown included on that site indicates that $2,276 was used to pay Taylor's bond at the Polk County Jail — $2,100 of which will be returned after she appears in court or the charges are dropped — while $1,825 was wired to Taylor's family members who paid her fees in Illinois. The remainder of the funds raised will be used to fund safe housing and transit back to Illinois, if Taylor desires it, and to help her obtain updated identification, including a legal name change and state-issued ID with her preferred name and gender listed.

Now that Taylor is out of jail, one of her top priorities is updating her legal identification to avoid such situations again, even though they should not occur in the first place, she tells The Advocate.

Taylor tells The Advocate that she felt her July 13 arrest was unequivocally unjust. "I was accused of prostituting ... [when] I was just doing my normal [thing]," she recalls. "I wasn't even doing anything criminal. I was just sitting in my hotel room that I paid for, just like everyone else." Taylor says she was visiting Des Moines from Illinois, accompanied by another trans woman, when she was allegedly profiled by hotel staff, who called police to investigate "possible prostitution activity." Taylor had signed in with a name other than her own, which in itself is not a crime.

"It seemed like they were trying to find something to charge me with," she explained to the Register. "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."

When it was discovered that Taylor was not engaged in sex work, police arrested her for carrying spironolactone hydrochloride, a transition-related medication, without a prescription, and for "malicious prosecution."

Despite her harrowing ordeal, Taylor was hopeful and smiling when she spoke with The Advocate over the phone Tuesday from Polk County Jail. Before sharing an update on what she calls the "complicated" court processes, she took the time to express her gratitude to the Polk County Jail staff, who she says were integral to getting her story out to media.

The huge response from activists (including founding members of the #BlackLivesMatter movement) and social media helped fuel the surge of donations that ultimately paid for Taylor's bail, fees, and other necessities within days of her story breaking. It's an expense the salon employee and cosmetology student says she could not otherwise afford, and without which she could have remained stuck in the legal and carceral system for much longer.

While Taylor confirms that she was placed in segregated housing without a cellmate because the jail "definitely" didn't know where to house her as a trans woman, she says she appreciates that staff "accomodated me as much as possible" by allowing as many "resources" as she needed, including a telephone, TV, and hospital bed in a private medical room.

Taylor had initially told the Register that she did not like being isolated, and felt she should be jailed with the other women.

Speaking with The Advocate Tuesday, Taylor said she felt unable to openly discuss her treatment in Polk County, because she was sitting in a "public" jail area with a guard nearby. But she did clarify to the Register that she had opted for "protective custody," to keep her out of the general population. That "general population" likely included cells shared with men, where she would have faced a heightened risk of sexual and physical assault. Sheriff Bill McCarthy was apparently well-aware of that danger when deciding where to house her, according to his comments to local media.

Taylor did emphasize to The Advocate that when she first arrived at the jail July 13, several correctional officers were especially concerned about what they considered the injustice of her arrest, and they had researched how to help her. This, in part, led to McCarthy contacting the Register in hopes that its reporters would spread the word through news coverage. That outreach resulted in an editorial by Register columnist Rekha Basu, who offers commentary on "current events, community and culture with a focus on human rights and social justice," according to her bio at the paper's website.

The Advocate subsequently picked up Taylor's story, followed by several other national news sites, helping the story to gain widespread attention, even trending as a popular Facebook news topic Monday.

As word of Taylor's incarceration began spreading over social media this past weekend, local activists sprang into action, contacting Taylor in jail to make sure she was safe, and putting pressure on the Drury Inn to apologize and give staff sensitivity training for how to treat trans and gender-nonconforming guests.

Tyler and Carter organized a Monday protest outside the West Des Moines motel and delivered a letter of demands, including that location manager Kim Gettler attend a "restorative justice" roundtable to learn how to better interact with LGBT people and people of color.

Drury Inn officials have not responded to the letter or publicly commented on Taylor's case.

For her part, Taylor says she's most concerned that trans women of color across the country daily face discrimination like that she says she experienced from the Drury Inn staff and West Des Moines police officers. She explains to The Advocate that the activist response to her case has felt "very empowering," and that she hopes to speak out about racism and transphobia on radio and television news programs to raise even more awareness.

Taylor adds that it's clear her recent ordeal could have been avoided had hotel staff and police not assumed she was engaged in criminal activity simply because she was a trans woman of color. "For a second, I didn't even think this stuff was still going on, and I thought that we [as a society] was changing," she reflects. "To witness that [we haven't] was a really big eye-opener."

Though she says her everyday life is mostly "peaceful" now, Taylor does recall that when she first began her transition to living openly as a woman she faced prejudice regularly. And whenever she does face the occasional issue for being trans now, she says "it always comes from people that I have shown my ID to, who are supposed to be professional." She explains:
"You would think I would have more problems from people on the street, random boys or random people, and I don’t even have it from them. It’s coming from people who are supposed to be professional; it’s their job. Their workplace is supposed to be helpful to people, and they’re not. … A hotel is generally supposed to be the utmost, 1,000 percent hospitality. They’re supposed to make you feel at home. They’re supposed to do it at all costs. There’s no other job like [that]."
And, Taylor stresses, she's not the only one whose story needs airtime. She tells The Advocate she's witnessed the same treatment repeatedly towards other trans women of color around her, several of whom she proudly mentors. She recalls a particularly striking alleged incident at a Sheraton Hotel in Kansas City, Mo., in which a trans friend who was celebrating the Fourth of July with Taylor and a group of other trans women informed her, "The lady at the front desk kept calling us 'sir.'"

"I confronted [the receptionist] about it," Taylor says. "I said, 'Why would you call my girlfriends 'sir'? They don't look like 'sirs' at all." Taylor says the woman referred to her friend's ID, which was marked with a "male" birth name (which was actually a unisex name, Taylor notes) to justify the misgendering.
She warns other trans people to stay safe by being prepared to face transphobia when they travel, and be aware that despite recent gains in LGBT equality and visibility, prejudice persists.

And Taylor concludes with one last message she asks The Advocate to announce: a "big, public 'thank you'" to everyone who has supported her, from activists to Polk County Jail staff to the hundreds online who have donated and shared her story.

Images courtesy of Meagan Taylor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In the News: Bay Area Reporter

Transmissions: This is not justice

NEWS



Meagan Taylor














Meagan Taylor is a 22-year-old hairstylist from Illinois. She is also a transwoman of color. Taylor was on a trip to Des Moines, Iowa with another transgender friend of hers.
While in the city, the duo got a room at the Drury Inn in Des Moines. Taylor noticed the staff "acting really funny." A short time after they checked in on July 13, West Des Moines Police were at their door.
The hotel staff had called the police, saying that "two males dressed as females" had checked in, and they had concerns there was "possible prostitution activity" going on.
The police found no evidence of sex work, which is what one might suspect when someone is not actually involved in same. This did not stop the police from finding other things to charge Taylor with.
They found she had a probation violation stemming from a credit card fraud case she was involved with as a teenager. While she served time for that charge, she had not yet completed paying off related fines. She also had spironolactone – a testosterone blocker common in transgender hormone regimens – but did not posses a current prescription for it. She had also used a pseudonym when checking into the hotel that, I should note, is not a crime.
She was charged for the possession of the spironolactone and the probation violation, as well as a charge for "malicious prosecution." That's a misdemeanor that is reserved for "a person who causes or attempts to cause another to be indicted or prosecuted for any public offense." It's really not very clear exactly what Taylor did to be charged with that.
While in police custody, she received two pat-downs: a female officer managed her upper body, while a male checked over her lower body. The police are now housing her at the Polk County Jail in an isolation cell. The jail has no policy on detaining transgender inmates.
So we have a black transwoman held in isolation, essentially for the crime of being a black transwoman.
The staff of the Drury Inn clearly only assumed there may have been prostitution involved based on Taylor's transgender status. I can't help but feel that her race was part of their assumptions.
The West Des Moines Police added to this, clearly fishing for something with which to charge Taylor. It's not to say that she did not have a parole violation and some drugs that may not have been prescribed to her, but I don't think anyone can look at the charges and her treatment and feel that justice is truly being served. To me, this is a nightmare scenario.

As of this writing, she is still in custody, in isolation. She did not have the money on her to post bail in excess of $2,000. A fundraiser is underway, in order to get her out of isolation in advance of her August 25 court date. People can donate through Welcome, A Communal Response to Poverty, by visiting http://sfwelcomeministry.blogspot.com/2015/07/arrested-for-being-transgender-meagan.html.
Taylor was released on bond this week, after funds from Welcome were used to pay her bail, said pastor Megan Rohrer, a member of the coalition. Additional funds raised will be used to pay Taylor's fees from the earlier case.

[Update: After the print issue of the Bay Area Reporter went to press, Rohrer reported that Taylor was released Wednesday afternoon after Illinois dropped its warrant.]

In recent months, the media has been intensely focused on Caitlyn Jenner's coming out.

It's a big and compelling story, and I don't fault anyone for having at least some interest. Jenner is a national hero after her victory in the 1976 Olympics, and her family has been under intense media scrutiny for years thanks to their reality television show. Thus far, Jenner has done a remarkable job of managing the public side of her transition.

Jenner's transition is also taking place at a time when transgender issues are gaining an incredible level of visibility. Many other transfolks have become celebrities, and many others are successfully making a name for themselves. It is almost like a renaissance for transgender people: we've gone past the tipping point and into new territory of acceptance.

Yet even with all the success, all the media hype, all the visibility, there are still cases like Taylor's, and others.
I cannot help but think of the case of Ky Peterson, a 23-year-old black transman who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for killing his rapist. Peterson discovered a bag of roughly 100 pills – an anti-seizure medication known as Tegretol – placed with his belongings. Peterson attempted suicide using the Tegretol.
By the same token, I can't help but think of the recent death of Sandra Bland. Bland was a cisgender black woman from Chicago, starting a new job in Texas. Police there pulled her over for a broken turn signal. She was then arrested for assault on a public servant and jailed. She was later found dead in her cell, with local police claiming her death a suicide. All for not using a turn signal.

As we enjoy what is an incredible time of visibility and growth for the transgender community – and LGBT rights in general – we need to be mindful of the experiences of people like Taylor.

When you can have the police called on you for little more than being a black transgender woman – because the hotel fears you might be prostituting yourself on their premises – that's a problem. When the police act on those fears by jailing you on charges that don't seem to fit the reality of the situation, and hold you in isolation for days on end based purely on the nature of your body – that's a travesty.

Transgender people have faced issues with bring harassed by police, assumed to be sex workers by police eager for an arrest. People of color, particularly blacks, are also familiar with being targeted by police and others.

This needs to change. We can celebrate our victories, but while people like Taylor are in prison, we can never truly be free and equal.

In the News: Gay Star News

Woman arrested in Iowa after she is reported simply for being trans

'Transgender people are being gender and racially profiled and it has to stop'

Woman arrested in Iowa after she is reported simply for being trans
22 July 2015
A St Louis woman is being held in isolation at an Iowa jail after the hotel where she was staying called the police simply because she is transgender.

According to the police report, Meagan Taylor was arrested on 13 July after authorities were notified of ‘two males dressed as females who checked in to the Drury Inn’ and ‘staff was worried about possible prostitution activity.’

The 22-year-old cosmetology student was woken up at 9am and brought in because she did not have the prescription for her hormone pills with her.

Taylor gave a fake name with a Missouri ID, which led to another charge of ‘malicious prosecution,’ an aggravated misdemeanor.

‘What happened to me, was definitely based on my gender. Transgender people are being gender and racially profiled and it has to stop,’ she said.

A background check that came back with an outstanding probation violation from Illinois for a 2010 credit card fraud conviction, for which Taylor did time when she was 17 but still owes $500 in fines.

Taylor requested ‘protective custody’ and is now being held in the medical unit of Polk County Jail.
Her bond was set at $2,000 but she did not know anyone local who could co-sign for her release.

Megan Rohrer, of San Francisco’s Welcome Ministry, started a crowdfunding campaign, which has raised $5,174 to pay for Taylor’s fines in Iowa and Illinois, and so she change her name legally and get a new ID with her preferred name and gender.

However, Taylor still may be detained until her trial on 10 August.

This is not the first time a transgender woman has been arrested for ‘walking while trans.’
Black transgender activist Monica Jones was was arrested in Arizona for ‘manifesting prostitution’ in May 2013.

In the News: The Advocate

Black Trans Woman Meagan Taylor Released from Iowa Jail

After spending two weeks in a segregated medical cell in Iowa, the Illinois trans woman was released from Polk County Jail today.

BY 

 

Meagan Taylor
Meagan Taylor
Meagan Taylor, the 22-year-old black trans woman who spent the past two weeks in a segregated cell at Polk County Jail in Des Moines, walked out of that facility today, according to advocates who have been calling for her release. 

"I'm ecstatic to be released," Taylor told the Transgender Law Center, which is currently investigating the possibility of litigation surrounding allegations that hotel workers and police profiled the black trans woman as a sex worker. "Words cannot express the way I feel to be out. I want to thank everyone who shared my story, and let people know that I am going to seek justice for what they did profiling me as a Black transgender woman."

Indeed, LGBT and social justice advocates have rallied around the young woman's plight, seizing on her allegations that hotel staff and police inaccurately profiled Taylor and her friend as sex workers. While being held at Polk County Jail, Taylor was kept alone in a medical cell, segregated from the general population, because jail officials were unsure about where to house a transgender woman. 

As the hashtag #FreeMeaganTaylor began trending on social media platforms Monday, organizers launched a fundraising campaign to pay Taylor's bail and surrounding fees that had been escalating after she failed to pay a fine on a five-year-old credit card fraud conviction. 

The transgender pastor who helped lead that fundraising effort — which subsequently raised more than $4,400, expressed their gratitude in a statement upon the news of Taylor's release. 

"My tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy when I learned that Meagan was going to be released from jail," said Pastor Megan Rohrer, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns they and them. "I want to thank the 133 people who donated funds to help us remove the financial barriers, and the Transgender Law Center who expedited the legal barriers that were keeping Meagan in jail."

Taylor, an Illinois resident, was arrested July 13 shortly after checking in to the Drury Inn in West Des Moines, Iowa, with a friend who also happens to be a transgender woman. 

Taylor says her ordeal began when hotel staff began "acting really funny" around her and her friend. Soon after the pair checked in, West Des Moines Police were knocking on their hotel room door, responding to a staff call about "two males dressed as females who checked into the Drury Inn" who staff worried were involved in "possible prostitution activity."

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 Des Moines Register, which first reported on Taylor's case in an op-ed by columnist Rekha Basu. 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. That nonpayment resulted in a $20,000 warrant for Taylor's appearance at a scheduled court date later this month. 

Some of the funds raised in Taylor's defense went to paying that outstanding fine, and the Transgender Law Center reports that the Illinois warrant has now been vacated. 

Police also found that Taylor had checked into the hotel under a name different from her own — an act not considered a crime. Police also found spironolactone hydrochlroide — a common medication used in trans women's hormone therapy to accompany estrogen — among Taylor's belongings, despite her not having a prescription in her belongings. Taylor maintains that she does have a prescription for the medication, she just wasn't traveling with it. 

Taylor was charged with "malicious prosecution" — defined as a "serious misdemeanor" for "a person who causes or attempts to cause another to be indicted or prosecuted for any public offense" — and possession of prescription drugs without a prescription. She was taken to Polk County Jail, where she was reportedly patted down by two guards: a female officer for the top half of her body and a male officer for the bottom half, she told the Register.

Jail officials explained their decisions by saying they were aware that trans women face a heightened risk of sexual assault when placed in men's cells, but that they did not feel "comfortable" placing her with women. Trans prisoners as well as immigration detainees are often held in isolation for their own "protection," despite the act being shown to cause psychological harm. Although Taylor initially told jail staffers she wanted to be housed with other female inmates, she ultimately agreed to be held in "protective custody," meaning a private medical cell without a roommate.

Check back for an in-depth feature, including a discussion with Taylor herself, tomorrow on The Advocate.

In the News: Des Moines Register

Jail inmate helps Iowa’s transgender learning curve

 
 
If all goes according to plan, Meagan Taylor should be out of Polk County Jail and heading home to Belleville, Ill. Thanks to the generosity of strangers, her Iowa bond has been posted and the five-year-old Illinois fines that triggered her arrest warrant from that state should be paid.

But as the circumstances leading to Taylor’s July 13 West Des Moines arrest prove, all can’t be trusted to go according to plan, especially when you’re black, transgender and on a trip to a new place with a trans friend. Your appearance might be deemed suspicious by the hotel manager, setting off a call that brings police to your room. An outstanding $500 fine, incurred when you were 17, might now have escalated to $1,713 and generated a warrant. Had you come from wealthy stock, that might have been paid off long ago, buffering you from the indiscretions of youth. Then you might not have given the wrong name when police showed up at your hotel room. Had you not been transgender, the hormone pills you take to make your physical being match your mental one probably wouldn’t have been in your purse.
Iowa already tops the nation in the rate at which it incarcerates black people. Add in trans and you’re likely out of luck.
We might hear these statistics, but when a Meagan Taylor, whose legal name is Derez Flowers, comes along, we get to see how it works in real life. “It’s still hard to be black and transgender,” said Taylor Tuesday in an interview in her cell in the medical unit of Polk County Jail. “You get racially profiled. They think we’re all doing stuff.”

For all her problems, Taylor comes across as a sweet 22-year-old who unsuspectingly landed in a bad spot, when all she really wants to be doing is nails and hair. She goes to cosmetology school and works in a salon. But she also got lucky: Her story inspired an outpouring of donations topping $4,000 in just a few days. The fund drive was taken up by Megan Rohrer, a Lutheran pastor in San Francisco with the Welcome Ministry, after a column on Taylor appeared in this space last week. Locally, activists have picketed the Drury Inn — which remains tight lipped — on Taylor’s behalf.

She also drew support from an unexpected place: the jail itself. “The jail had a lot to do with getting my story out there,” said Taylor. It was Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy who reached out to me about Taylor’s story because he wanted aspects of it to reach the LGBT population, and get their input on how some things should be handled. McCarthy says there’s “a disconnect” between law enforcement and some sectors of society. “Issues like this should not be resolved by the justice system alone,” he told me. “There has to be input from society in general.”
That seems an awfully enlightened position for a county sheriff to take. McCarthy said Caitlyn Jenner has helped serve as a catalyst. He thinks in Hollywood, this would be a “ non-issue,” though I suspect it would still be one, maybe just less of one. “It’s an issue here,” he said, “because we haven’t crossed those bridges yet.”

This is also significant because Taylor had complained earlier of feeling alone and isolated in the medical unit, and some activists around the country took that to mean she’d been placed in solitary confinement. Some critics slammed the jail, even going so far as to say it bordered on “torture,” said Donna Red Wing, who heads the LGBT organization One Iowa. She visited the jail Tuesday and was impressed with the care officials have taken with Taylor. They are bound by state law that requires men to be placed with men and women with women. But given the high incidence of assaults nationally on transgender inmates, jail officials wouldn’t put Taylor in a male unit. They also said she had requested protective custody, so they housed her in what the jail director calls the “penthouse” of the facility — with a television, hospital bed and telephone access.

Taylor now says she has been treated very well and that jail officials stretched to give her access to people who could help her.

There’s a learning curve all around; that’s inevitable. But maybe the lesson is that the best way to handle the discomfort of an unfamiliar situation is to try and get more educated and familiar with it, rather than jump to the worst conclusions — as Drury Inn seems to have done. For all that Taylor had to endure, this story has an uplifting twist in the way that some people who never met her — maybe never met a transgender person at all — reached out in outrage and empathy to support her. If only we all only followed our better instincts.

In the News:Mic

Why This San Francisco Pastor Is Raising Money for a Trans Woman of Color Jailed in Iowa

Most people don't expect to end up in jail while they're on vacation.

But that's exactly what happened to Meagan Taylor, a 22-year-old black transgender woman from St. Louis who visited Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this month. Taylor and a friend, an unnamed woman who is reportedly also transgender, were staying at the town's Drury Inn when hotel personnel called the police to report "two males dressed as females" who they suspect of possibly working as prostitutes.
Meagan Taylor before her arrest.
Source: San Francisco Welcome Ministry
Taylor studies cosmetology and was not engaged in sex work, but when cops arrived they found hormones she uses to aid her gender transition and arrested her for using prescription drugs without a prescription. Thanks to a host of other legal entanglements, including $500 in fines she owes Illinois authorities because of a previous conviction for credit card fraud at age 17, Taylor remains in jail. 
But she's not alone.

Pastor Megan Rohrer of San Francisco's The Welcome Ministry heard about Taylor's story from friends in Iowa. Rohrer, who is the first trans pastor ordained by the Lutheran Church and uses the pronoun "they," says Taylor's story is all too common. "I had just visited South Dakota and had all of the same fears [of being profiled], but nothing had happened to me," Rohrer told Mic on Wednesday. "What happened to Meagan could have happened to me."
Meagan Taylor speaks to Pastor Rohrer from jail.
Source: San Francisco Welcome Ministry
Walking while trans: Transgender women of color in particular are so often profiled by police as sex workers that the phenomenon has even earned a name: walking while trans, which was detailed by German Lopez at Vox.2014 report from Columbia University showed the extent to which law enforcement polices gender. "LGBT people, specifically transgender women of color and LGBT youth of color, are endemically profiled as being engaged in sex work, public lewdness or other sexual offenses," researchers wrote. "Police in many jurisdictions use possession of condoms as evidence, supporting arrests for prostitution-related offenses."

Last Friday, Rohrer began crowdsourcing funds to help Taylor raise money for bond and other legal expenses. So far, the response has been overwhelming and they've raised more than $5,000. 
"When transphobia and discrimination feels so big we don't know how to fix it, sometimes raising $4,000 feels more tangible," Rohrer said. "We can support the trans community by fixing something smaller."

Even though the money for her bond has been raised, Taylor will likely remain in jail until an Aug. 10 court date, unless that court date is moved up. 

In the news: Boston Edge

Trans Woman Says She Was Profiled, Wrongfully Arrested

Wednesday Jul 22, 2015
Approved screen shot from a video chat between Pastor Megan Rohrer and Meagan Taylor
Approved screen shot from a video chat between Pastor Megan Rohrer and Meagan Taylor  (Source:The Welcome Ministry)
A transgender woman of color, who was arrested by Iowa police July 13, says she was actually booked because of her gender identity, the Des Moines Register.

Megan Taylor, 22, was visiting Des Moines, Iowa with a friend, who is also a trans woman, from Illinois. The pair stayed in the Durry Inn. According to reports, hotel workers contacted police to report "two males dressed as females" and were concerned about "possible prostitution activity."

When cops showed up at the hotel room, they found Taylor, a hairstylist and a cosmetology student, in possession of hormones in an unmarked bottle and charged her with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription. Think Progress points out Taylor gave a fake name to police and argued that she was being treated unfairly. Police then charged her with "malicious prosecution," an aggravated misdemeanor.

Cops then conducted a background check on Taylor and found she had an outstanding probation violation from Illinois for a 2010 credit card fraud conviction. Taylor said she served her time for the crime when she was 17 but still owes $500 in fines.

"What happened to me was definitely based on my gender," Taylor said. "Transgender people are being gender and racially profiled and it has to stop."

Taylor's bond was set at $2,000 but she didn't know anyone locally to co-sign her release and she does not have a lawyer, Think Progress notes.

When Taylor was taken into custody, police debated where to place her - officials didn't want to place her with men, but were uncomfortable putting her with women. According to Polk County Sheriff's Office, Taylor requested "protective custody," which means she was held in the medical unit of Polk County Jail by herself. Think Progress reports when she was brought into custody, she was patted down by a female officer on the top half of her body, and by a male officer for her bottom half.

Since the incident, Pastor Megan Rohrer, a member of the Welcome Ministry in San Francisco, launched a crowdfunding campaign, which has raised more than $5,000 for Taylor's fines in Iowa and Illinois. The money is also going to be used to help her legally change her name and get a new ID with her preferred gender.

Think Progress reports a number of people have shown support for Taylor and about 20 people protested outside the Durry Inn last Saturday, asking for a public apology and for the hotel to reimburse Taylor for the room and cost of arrest. The Des Moines Register wrote protesters also wanted the hotel "to commit to training and development for hotel staff regarding positive interactions with LGBTQ communities and communities of color." Officials from Durry Inn have yet to comment on the incident.

While it was initially believed Taylor would remain in custody until August 10, the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday in a separate article that she was able to post her $2,000 bail, thanks to the donations from the crowdfunding campaign. The newspaper writes she signed an extradition waiver, which allows authorities to transport her back to Illinois.