The Trump administration today announced its plan to deny transgender people experiencing homelessness equal access to shelters.
The proposal, announced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, centers on the Equal Access Rule, first published in 2012 to ensure shelters and programs do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD Secretary Ben Carson plans to weaken those provisions and other protections for transgender people seeking access to HUD programs.
Yesterday, Secretary Carson told a House committee that HUD had no plans for revising the Equal Access Rule, stating, “I’m not going to say what we will do in the future about anything. I’m not currently anticipating changing the rule.”
Just last month, Secretary Carson pointed to the Equal Access Rule in defending HUD against criticism for its withdrawal of guidance documents on nondiscrimination. Testifying before a House Appropriations Subcommittee, Carson said, “We have not removed the rules. We have not changed the rules at all.”
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, condemned the plan:
“This is a heartless attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The programs impacted by this rule are life-saving for transgender people, particularly youth rejected by their families, and a lack of stable housing fuels the violence and abuse that takes the lives of many transgender people of color across the country. Secretary Carson’s actions are contrary to the mission of his Department and yet another example of tragic cruelty of this administration.”
Full and equal access to shelters for transgender people is supported by over 300 national, state, and local organizations working to end domestic and sexual violence, including the YWCA which serves half a million survivors of violence in shelters across the country.
According to the US Transgender Survey:
- One in four transgender adults experienced some kind of housing bias in the last year including being evicted or denied a home. One in eight Black transgender women were denied a home because they are transgender in the last year.
- One in three were homeless in their lifetime and one in eight were homeless in the last year.
- Those who experienced homelessness were more likely to face physical and sexual violence as well as be forced into survival sex work.
- Seven in ten of those who accessed a shelter in the previous year were kicked out for being transgender, physically or sexually assaulted, or faced another form of mistreatment because of their gender identity.
According to The Williams Institute, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.