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Iowa ACLU furious over treatment of two black, transgender persons at West Des Moines hotel

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – The Iowa ACLU is just one agency that is enraged by the treatment of a transgender woman at a West Des Moines, Iowa Drury Inn Hotel, where a manager profiled the woman to police, leading to her arrest and an eventual lawsuit.

According to the Iowa ACLU:

Meagan Taylor booking photo at Polk County Jail
Meagan Taylor booking photo at Polk County Jail

Meagan Taylor and her best friend were on their way to her friend’s brother’s funeral when they checked in at the Drury Inn in West Des Moines. Both are Black and transgender.Even though Meagan has a Gold Key Club card membership with the hotel chain and had a reservation, check-in took an hour, compared to other guests’ mere 5 or 10 minutes. Meagan had to produce ID twice. Staff openly showed disgust with the two and whispered in front of them. As Meagan said, she felt she degraded and humiliated just because of who she was.

Read Meagan’s story and learn more about transgender rights in Iowa. 

Once they were checked in, they thought the worst was over. They were wrong.

At some point, staff decided the two might be engaged in illegal sex workers, and called 911 because they were “two males dressed as females.” Checking in two transgender people is hardly an emergency. In fact, listen to the 911 recording. When police came to the hotel, they found no evidence of prostitution, but they arrested her for having hormone medicine without a copy of her prescription on hand and because of unpaid fines from a juvenile charge in her home state.

Meagan missed the funeral that was so important to her to attend, and spent eight lonely and scary days in jail before people who heard about her case in the news raised funds for her release. The charges stemming from her arrest were dismissed, but Meagan is left with the harmful experience of discrimination she endured.

Meagan Taylor ended up spending 8 days in jail.  Aided by the ACLU of Iowa, she is suing the Drury Inn for discriminating against her because she is Black and transgender, which theACLUS says is illegal under the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

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