Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge announced that her agency is withdrawing a proposed rule change sought by the previous administration that would have reinterpreted the Equal Access Rule to gut protections for transgender people.
The proposed rule change would have made it easier for HUD-funded shelters to deny service to transgender Americans. The Obama administration expanded protections to explicitly cover transgender Americans in 2016, but Donald Trump moved to strip these protections in his final months in office. Activists, led by the Center for American Progress and the Housing Saves Lives campaign, organized more than 66,000 comments from the public in opposition to the proposed rule change.
Transgender people—young people in particular—are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness. A 2016 study from CAP and the Equal Rights Center found that just 30 percent of homeless shelters were willing to appropriately house transgender residents, and 1 in 5 refused to house a transgender resident at all. By ensuring that any lingering strains of bigotry left behind by the previous administration never see the light of day, the Biden White House again reaffirms its commitment to the dignity and well-being of all Americans. In response to today’s announcement, Sharita Gruberg, vice president of the LGBTQ Research and Communications Project at CAP, issued the following statement:
Today’s decision by HUD Secretary Fudge underscores the fundamental principle that all Americans deserve access to safe, dignified shelter, free of all forms of discrimination. President Barack Obama recognized that in 2016 when he expanded federal protections, and President Joe Biden recognizes it today by reaffirming them.
The U.S. Supreme Court made it abundantly clear just last year that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to equal protections under the law. While a court order may not have meant anything to President Biden’s lawless predecessors, this administration is ensuring that every agency and arm of the federal government abides by that ruling.
Far-right extremists and their allies in Congress and state legislatures are increasingly engaging in violent rhetoric and discriminatory legislation directed toward the transgender community, too often with dangerous and deadly consequences. The pandemic has affected the LGBTQ community at a disproportionate rate, and 2020 saw a record number of violent, fatal attacks targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States. It has never been more urgent for the federal government to reaffirm and extend protections for transgender people.
While we still need the Senate to pass the Equality Act and ensure the rights of LGBTQ people cannot easily be reversed under a future administration, Secretary Fudge’s decision to rescind the proposed rule change is a victory for all Americans.
For more information on the Equal Access Rule and the Fair Housing Act, or to speak with an expert, please contact Adam Peck at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcepa.