Listen: Hotel staff dial 911 because guests are black and transgender
Staff at a hotel made a emergency call to the police to report two black transgender guests and “make sure they’re not hookers”.
The American Civil Liberties Union is pursuing a complaint on behalf of Meagan Taylor and a friend – both of whom are black trans women.
The pair were en route to attend a funeral when the pair checked into the Drury Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.
However, shocking audio obtained by the ACLU reveals that hotel staff panicked when they saw the women, and decided to dial 911 to report their “suspicious” guests.
In audio of the 911 call, the general manager at the Drury Hotel is heard asking to run the women’s details because she doesn’t trust them.
She explains: “I have somebody that’s a little unusual that’s checking into the hotel. I didn’t know if there’s any way to possibly run their names or information through the database? They’re dressed as a woman but it’s a man’s driver’s license.
When the operator explains she can’t give out information over an emergency line, and asks if she would like police to attend, the manager responds: “I want it to be discreet… they went up to the room. “There’s two males, but they’re dressed as females. [The driver’s licenses are] male.
The perplexed 911 operator asks: “Is it just because they’re dressed as females, that’s why your concerned?”
The manager responded: “They’re dressed a little bit over the top. I just want to make sure they’re not hookers either.”
The ACLU notes: “There was no emergency. Just two young women stopping for the evening at a hotel.
“Meagan and her friend were not men dressed as women. They are women who triggered a set of racialized and gendered assumptions about who is appropriate and welcome in public space — still not transgender people of colour in far too many places.”
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Rather than diffuse the situation, when the police arrived they searched the women’s room, and arrested Ms Taylor for being in possession of hormones without a copy of her prescription.
Though the charges were eventually dropped and Ms Taylor was cleared of all wrongdoing, she had already spent eight days in jail and missed the funeral.
Ms Taylor added: “As a Black trans woman, I am used to unfair and discriminatory treatment, but this was extra upsetting because we were paying customers at a hotel and on our way to a funeral. I felt like I had no rights.”
“When this all happened, I knew exactly what it was: the racial profiling, the transgender profiling, the harassment.
“I knew why it was happening, and I knew it wasn’t right. I knew something had to change.
“To experience so many levels of discrimination makes you feel like less of a person.”
Of her lawsuit, she said: “I want to stand up for myself and other Black and transgender people. And so I did.”