Washington, D.C. — Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) previews a proposed rule change that guts protections for transgender people under the Equal Access Rule, leaving them vulnerable to being denied shelter and forced out onto the streets.
The Equal Access Rule protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in HUD-funded services, and a 2016 update explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination in homeless shelters. Before these protections went into effect, a study conducted by the Center for American Progress and the Equal Rights Center found that only 30 percent of shelters tested were willing to appropriately house transgender people, and 1 in 5 outright refused to provide them with shelter.
Despite the importance of these protections, with today’s announced rule change proposal, the Trump administration signaled its intention to allow individual taxpayer-funded shelters to cherry-pick what federal requirements they are willing to comply with and decide whether or not they want to safely house transgender people, all under the false pretenses of religious liberty and concern for women’s safety.
Sharita Gruberg, senior director for the LGBTQ Research and Communications Project at CAP, released the following statement:
Every American should have access to safe shelter free of discrimination. The protections of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Access Rule are more important now than ever. The government’s enforcement should be aligned with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that sex discrimination includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
Instead, the Trump administration is targeting transgender people for discrimination. Giving shelters a license to discriminate against transgender people would be wrong at any time, but to do so in the midst of a pandemic and an economic crisis constitutes an act of wanton cruelty.
This proposed rule risks the lives and safety of people who are transgender or gender nonconforming, whose ability to obtain lifesaving housing services will be up to the whims and potential biases of individual providers.
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