New Trump Administration Rule Would Kick Transgender People Out of Shelters

Photo courtesy of AinhoaUriSae, licensed under Creative Commons.

The Trump Administration has announced a proposed rule changed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that could force transgender individuals out of shelters and into the streets. 

According to the Center for American Progress, the proposed HUD change would gut the Equal Access Rule, which “explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination in homeless shelters.” The Equal Access Rule directs homeless shelters to accept trans people “based on their authentic gender,” according to True Colors United.

Before passage of this rule, the Center for American Progress conducted a study of trans discrimination by homeless shelters. They determined that only 30 percent of shelters were willing to provide appropriate shelter to trans individuals, and one in five shelters outright refused to provide them with shelter. 

This news comes one day after Pride Month ended. 

Today, the National Center for Transgender Equality and True Colors United launched a “Housing Saves Lives” campaign in an effort to combat this proposed change, which requires 60 days of public comment.

A number of other major housing advocacy and civil rights organizations – including the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Transgender Law Center, and Louisiana Trans Advocates – are joining efforts to combat this policy. 

Numerous advocacy organizations also decried this move today. 

The difference between being sheltered and unsheltered is especially dangerous for transgender homeless persons, particularly transgender persons of color, who face harassment and threats from private individuals, as well as elevated rates of policing and violence within police custody,” said True Colors United.

“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising levels of unsheltered homelessness, it is unconscionable that the Administration would allow publicly-funded shelters to deny access to life-saving assistance to people who need it most,” said Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

“The Trump Administration is poised to willfully defy the Supreme Court and deny fundamental human rights by allowing federally-funded shelters to discriminate against transgender Americans,” said Lisa Rice, President & CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. 

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Thus, it is uncertain whether the Trump Administration can legally make this policy change. 

In the United States, one in three transgender individuals experiences homelessness at some point in their lifetime. In 2019 alone, 12 percent of the trans community was homeless at some point.

If you would like to be able to add your comment to the proposed HUD rule change, you can sign up for alerts here.

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