20 July 2015

The Charges: She's Black---And Trans

So what is life like for a black trans woman?

The sad tale of Meagan Taylor might tell us more--and worse--than most people could have imagined.

She checked into a Des Moines, Iowa hotel room with a friend who is also transgendered. The staff were "acting really funny" around them, she said.  Then the police showed up at their hotel room.

Now she's sitting in a cell of the Polk County Jail Medical Unit while officials try to figure out what to do with her.  Her bond is set at $2000.  Were she a Polk County resident, she could pay a tenth of that.  But, being from out-of-state, she would need someone local to co-sign, and she doesn't know a soul in Iowa.  She doesn't even have a lawyer.  All of this means that Taylor could be in that cell for months.

So what, exactly, is Meagan charged with?  Well, the hotel clerk who called the cops described "two males dressed as females", with the implication that they were prostitutes.  The cops could find no evidence of that.   They did, however, find a bottle of spironolactone hydrochloride.  in an unmarked bottle in her purse.  I used to take that same drug with estrogen tablets before U had my surgery but, apparently, the cops didn't believe her when she told them it's part of her hormone therapy.   So, she was charged with having a prescription drug without a prescription.

And, to be fair, she did give a false name and Missouri ID.  It’s not clear as to how she got that ID, but it’s hard to understand why that should have led to a charge of “malicious prosecution”, an aggravated misdemeanor.
While arresting her, a police officer ran a check and found she had an outstanding probation violation in her home state of Illinois: When she was 17, she was charged with credit card fraud. She says she did her time for that but admits she still owes $500 in fines.

All right.  You might say that Meagan Taylor is no angel.  But who among us is?  And young trans people often do, out of desperation, the sorts of things (like credit card fraud and using fake IDs) other young people do out of stupidity or arrogance. 

I don’t think most people would want to keep any young person locked up for such offenses.  Incarcerating such people rarely does them any good and costs a lot of money.  So why do Polk County officials see fit to keep Meagan Taylor, a low-level nonviolent offender, behind bars?

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