Movement Grows To Free Woman Arrested For "Walking While Trans"

On July 13, Meagan Taylor was arrested in Des Moines, IA. Her crime? She was charged with having prescription drugs without a prescription, but a growing numbers of supporters say she was actually just guilty of "walking while transgender" — and now they're are rallying to get her out.

On July 13, Taylor, 22, was visiting Des Moines when a staff member at the hotel where she was staying called the police, concerned that Taylor and her friend, also a trans woman, were involved in prostitution. When she was arrested, police found a hormone-therapy drug in her possession but say she didn’t have her prescription on her. Further digging by authorities revealed an unpaid fine from a long-ago violation relating to a credit card.

However, from the beginning, the catalyst for her arrest seemed to have been her appearance, not her actions; the police were told "two males dressed as females" were at the hotel, according to the local paper. Once in the Polk County Jail, Taylor was placed in a medical unit, in isolation.

"The arrest of Meagan Taylor is another example of how transgender women of color are targeted by the criminal legal system simply for existing," says ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio. "Using prescription medication and staying the night at a hotel are things that so many of us take for granted, but for transgender women of color these daily life activities can lead to arrest."

Support for Taylor has also come in the form of tweets using the hashtag #FreeMeaganTaylor, which has been tweeted out more than 600 times.
Rev. Megan Rohrer, a Lutheran pastor based in San Francisco, who is also transgender and has roots in the Midwest, spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign that has raised the money to pay Taylor's $2,000 bail and other necessary expenses — and there's a chance she'll be released on bail in the coming days.

Although Rohrer is pleased with the progress, Taylor's story still illuminates how far trans rights still have to go. "Meagan mistakenly believed that things were getting better because of all the positive press for trans individuals and how far transgender rights have come recently," Rohrer writes. "But trans women of color experience discrimination and violence at unacceptable rates. I hope Meagan's story reminds my transgender siblings to be safe, educates the general public about transgender people, and shines a light on all the faithful people who are supporting LGBTQ individuals."

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Taylor had been charged with prostitution. The police were called after a staffer suspected her of prostitution, but she was charged with having prescription drugs with no prescription.

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