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New Trump rules permit discrimination against homeless trans people

Nick Duffy May 22, 2019
A homeless shelter. File photo

A homeless shelter. File photo (Scott Olson/Getty)

The Trump administration has proposed new rules to make it is legal to discriminate against homeless transgender people based on “religious beliefs.”

The revised rules issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday (May 22) state that shelters are able to deny transgender people a place in the shelter of their chosen sex.

Homeless transgender people could be turned away from shelters

The policy states that shelter providers are permitted to restrict access to bathrooms or sex-segregated shelters to transgender people.

Under the proposed rules, shelter providers are entitled to assign sex based on “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs, any relevant considerations under civil rights and nondiscrimination authorities [and] the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents,” in addition to a person’s chosen gender.

The policy would grant religious homeless shelters the right to refuse gender-appropriate housing to transgender people.

A shelter for homeless children. File photo.
A shelter for homeless children. File photo. (NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty)

Transgender women could be forced to sleep in male shared spaces, while trans men could be forced into the women’s dormitories.

Critics fear the rule could also allow single-sex shelters to turn away trans people entirely.

Just one day before the proposed rules were issued, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson had told Congress that he did not have any plans to change LGBT+ discrimination rules.

He had claimed: “I’m not going to say what we will do in the future about anything. I’m not currently anticipating changing the rule.”

‘Heartless attack’ on trans people condemned

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement to PinkNews: “This is a heartless attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The programs impacted by this rule are life-saving for transgender people, particularly youth rejected by their families, and a lack of stable housing fuels the violence and abuse that takes the lives of many transgender people of color across the country.

“Secretary Carson’s actions are contrary to the mission of his Department and yet another example of tragic cruelty of this administration.”

Democratic National Committee LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta said in a statement to PinkNews: “President Trump is putting trans lives at risk yet again.

“Study after study has shown that LGBTQ people, especially transgender youth, have a higher chance of experiencing homelessness over the course of their lives.

“Additionally, 7 in 10 transgender individuals who stayed in a shelter last year were kicked out, physically or sexually assaulted, or faced another form of mistreatment because of their gender identity.

“By allowing shelters to turn away trangender people, the Trump administration has shown once again it regards them as second class citizens who don’t deserve the most basic services or protections.

“Only days ago, Democrats in the U.S. House voted to pass the Equality Act, a bill that would counter this exact policy. Our community must stand together, call our Senators, and demand a vote on the Equality Act in the Republican-controlled Senate. These attacks by the Trump administration must be stopped.”

Sharita Gruberg of American Progress tweeted: “The Equal Access Rule protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, including in homeless shelters by ensuring transgender people are able to access HUD-funded shelter consistent with their gender identity.

“HUD wants to allow shelters to decide who is eligible for access to single-sex or sex-segregated facilities, opening the door to discrimination. Gender identity is the LAST consideration in its list of factors shelters will be able to rely on.”

Gruberg added: “HUD says shelters can consider safety/privacy, but it’s TRANS WOMEN who are most at risk. [The National Center for Transgender Equality] found >50% of survey respondents who stayed in a shelter in the prior year were verbally harassed, physical attacked, and/or sexually assaulted bc of their gender identity.

“In 2016, over 300 domestic violence and sexual violence organizations across the country signed a National Consensus Statement. These leaders agree: transgender women victims being served alongside other women is appropriate and not a safety issue.

“It’s important to remember, no matter what Ben Carson does, no matter how often he lies, LGBTQ people ARE currently protected under the law from housing discrimination.”

More: Donald Trump, homeless, Trans, Transgender, Trump

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