LGBTQ advocates on Thursday hailed a decision by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to withdraw a proposed Trump administration rule that would have allowed federally funded single-sex shelters to deny unhoused transgender people refuge in facilities matching their gender identity.
"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."
—HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge
In a clear break with the previous administration's anti-transgender stance, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement that "access to safe, stable housing—and shelter—is a basic necessity."
"Unfortunately, transgender and gender-nonconforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cisgender people," she added. "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."
— HUDgov (@HUDgov) April 22, 2021
In what was then condemned as "yet another dangerous and disgraceful attack on transgender people," the May 2019 proposal would have rolled back the Obama administration's Equal Access Rules, which aimed to provide everyone with access to safe and secure housing, "regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status."
While promoting the Trump administration's discriminatory policies during a September 2019 visit to the agency's San Francisco office, former HUD Secretary Ben Carson sparked outrage when he speculated that residents at shelters for unhoused women would be traumatized if "big, hairy men" were allowed to stay there.
The National Center for Transgender Equality called Thursday's move "a clear indication that Secretary Fudge and President [Joe] Biden are strongly committed to protecting transgender people from housing discrimination."
GOOD NEWS! The HUD Equal Access Rule (protecting trans folks' right to be housed in shelters & public accommodations according to their gender identity) is here to stay! Thanks @SecFudge!
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) April 22, 2021
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Center deputy executive director Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen said in a statement that "the Biden administration is living up to its commitment to protect transgender people from discrimination."
"Today's announcement by Secretary Fudge is an important step in ensuring access to safe, affirming housing for transgender people," he added. "This is a decision that will save lives and help transgender people experiencing homelessness receive the assistance they need."
Dylan Waguespack, public policy and external affairs director at the LGBTQ youth advocacy group True Colors United, said that "by ending this discriminatory proposal for good, the department is righting a serious wrong."
"Whether it's homeless shelters, sports, or healthcare, supporting the safety and dignity of all young people is a central tenet to our society, regardless of who they are or who they love," asserted Waguespack. "We're thrilled to see that tenet wholeheartedly embraced by Secretary Fudge and leadership across the Biden administration."
Today, @SecFudge announced HUD’s recommitment to protecting transgender people experiencing homelessness from discrimination when they seek shelter or services.
— Dylan Waguespack (@DylanMercury) April 22, 2021
HUD's decision is the latest move by an administration that has worked swiftly to reverse Trump's anti-LGBTQ policies.
On his first day in office, Biden signed what the Human Rights Campaign hailed as "the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity" in U.S. history, while the Department of Defense announced last month that the Trump-era prohibition on transgender troops would be lifted.