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Trans woman told to ‘act like a man’ unless she wanted ‘trouble’ by bigoted landlord

Danai Nesta Kupemba July 7, 2022
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A landlord is being sued for discrimination. (Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

A Florida landlord is facing federal discrimination charges after telling a trans tenant she would be in “trouble” if she didn’t “act like a man”.

The U. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Tuesday (5 July) that it would be charing landlord Nathan Dykgraaf with discrimination against his former tenant’s gender identity.

The woman filed a complaint with HUD after Dykgraaf, owner of the 21 Palms RV Resort in Davenport, Florida, left her a note in saying that he was aware that she was transitioning.

The note, which she received in January 2021, said that if she didn’t want “trouble” she should “act like a man”. 

“I have been informed of your actions to have your sex changed to a female, I am told you have started taking the necessary medication and that after a period of time your change will be completed,” Dykgraff reportedly wrote.

“To avoid problems you must: 1. Act as a man 2. Talk as a man 3. Dress as a man 4. Avoid tight clothing that is revealing sexual organs. If you follow the above steps trouble will be avoided. Sincerely, Nathan D.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against tenants because of their gender identity. The Biden administration said in early 2021 the Act includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Transgender people continue to face discrimination. (Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

The indictment states that after the tenant received the letter, she stopped “fully expressing herself” and “no longer publicly dressed as a woman at the Subject Property”. She also “avoided respondents out of fear of eviction or other trouble”.

The tenant’s fear was so great that she even “limited her use of the amenities”. The tenant, her fiancé and their child left the property in August 2021.

HUD states that after they left, the tenant, the fiancé and child experienced “emotional distress, lost housing opportunity, and out-of-pocket expenses”.

Demetria L McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said: “No one should have to change how they express their gender identity to maintain their housing.

“Setting restrictions like these is not only unacceptable, it is illegal. This charge demonstrates HUD’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring housing providers meet their fair housing obligations.”

Damon Smith, HUD’s general counsel, said: “The conduct alleged here provides a clear example of unlawful discrimination.

“This charge makes clear that the Department will take action to stop housing providers from subjecting transgender tenants to such unlawful conduct.”

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If the ALJ finds that discrimination has occurred then they will award damages to the former tenant and could fine the landlord.

The National Centre for Transgender Equality found that one in five transgender people in the United States have been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in 10 have been evicted from their homes because of their gender identity.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidance on discrimination on gender identity or sexual orientation but transgender people continue to struggle to find houses. It is estimated 20 to 40 per cent of homeless people in the United States are LGBTQ+.

More: housing

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