White House kills off abhorrent Trump plot to let homeless shelters turn away trans people
The Biden administration has scrapped a Trump-era proposal that would have allowed publicly-funded homeless shelters to discriminate against trans people.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it was withdrawing the rule on Thursday (22 April), which was first proposed by the Trump administration in July 2020.
In a statement, HUD secretary Marcia Fudge said the former administration’s proposed rule-change would have weakened the Equal Access Rule, which ensures that everyone can access taxpayer-funded shelters and services, regardless of gender identity of sexual orientation.
“Access to safe, stable housing – and shelter – is a basic necessity,” Fudge said.
“Unfortunately, transgender and gender non-conforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cisgender people.
“Today, we are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity. HUD is open for business for all.”
The Equal Access Rule was first introduced in 2016 – however, the Trump administration refused to fully implement the measure.
Last year, the Trump administration proposed a new rule that would have allowed officials in homeless shelters to ask transgender service-users inappropriate questions about their gender identity.
The proposed rule would have allowed publicly funded shelters to implement rules barring transgender people from single-sex shelters.
It also would have allowed officials working in shelters to determine a person’s gender and to place them in a shelter that would not align with their identity.
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HUD’s decision was welcomed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
“We are thrilled to see today’s announcement, which is further confirmation that this administration is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ people are not turned away from federally-funded services and programs,” NCLR legal director Shannon Minter said.
“Access to homeless shelters is often a matter of survival for trans people, who are more likely to be homeless, to lack secure housing, and to be the victims of domestic violence.”
Minter said the Trump administration’s proposed rule change would have undone “one of the most important rules adopted by the Obama administration”.
“That attempt to authorise discrimination by shelters elicited overwhelming opposition, and under new leadership the agency has now jettisoned that dangerous proposal for good.
“We look forward to a continued partnership with the administration to ensure that federal sex discrimination protections are implemented throughout the federal government.”