In what advocates for LGBTQ rights condemned as "yet another dangerous and disgraceful attack on transgender people from the Trump administration," the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday announced a proposal to allow taxpayer-funded homeless shelters to turn away trans individuals.
"When shelters are allowed to turn transgender people away—a policy that is sanctioned by a government that continues to push the lie that the mere existence of trans people threatens the privacy and safety of others—deadly violence against the trans community on the streets will rise."
—Ian Thompson, ACLU
"This is a heartless attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society," Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), said in a statement denouncing the plan.
HUD's new proposal would revise the Equal Access Rule, first published in 2012, that bars housing programs from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
If the revision takes effect, operators of federally funded sex-segregated shelters can consider factors such as "privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs" and sex designations on government documents when making a determination about a person's sex for housing purposes.
In a Twitter thread Wednesday, NCTE noted the high rates of trans individuals who experience homelessness in their lifetimes and the "disproportionate levels of discrimination" they face at shelters.
Here are the facts:
1 in 3 trans people have been homeless in their lives
70% of trans people who have used a shelter have experienced harassment
This is a heartless move against some of our society’s most vulnerable.#SheltersSaveLives #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/ITIkV7ITjg
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) May 22, 2019
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"Many transgender and non-binary people experience pervasive discrimination in the workplace and in housing, made even more heartbreaking by violence and rejection at home," Ian Thompson, senior legislative representative for the ACLU, said in a statement. "For transgender people, particularly trans youth of color and black trans women who experience homelessness at appallingly high rates, the crisis is especially dire, and has led to a devastating and largely unaddressed epidemic of violence and death."
Thompson warned that "when shelters are allowed to turn transgender people away—a policy that is sanctioned by a government that continues to push the lie that the mere existence of trans people threatens the privacy and safety of others—deadly violence against the trans community on the streets will rise."
HUD just attacked trans people in a serious way. If shelters can turn away trans people based on religious or moral objections we will see more trans death, more murders of trans people on the streets, more Black trans women will die. This is all happening every day.
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) May 22, 2019
The proposal came just a day after HUD Secretary Ben Carson told House lawmakers the Trump administration had no plans to change federal rules designed to protect LGTBQ people from housing discrimination.
BREAKING: Yesterday @HUDgov Sec. Ben Carson testified before Congress that he wouldn't change the rules protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing. Today, HUD announced they are proposing a rule to allow anti-trans discrimination in shelters. He lied. pic.twitter.com/ypR5VStngS
— Sharita Gruberg (@Shugruberg) May 22, 2019
Given Carson's comments Tuesday followed by the new proposal from the agency he runs, Keisling said, "Secretary Carson's actions are contrary to the mission of his Department and yet another example of tragic cruelty of this administration."