- Department of Housing and Urban Development is reversing protections for trans people using shelters.
Homeless shelters in the US will be able to turn trans people away based on their ‘height’, ‘facial hair’ and whether they have ‘an Adam’s apple’.
Those characteristics are in the wording of a new rule by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
It guts the previous Equal Access Rule, which Barack Obama introduced in 2012, to give trans people fair access to shelters.
The revised HUD rule will be published on the Federal Register today. That allows the public 60 days to respond before it comes into force.
However campaigners in the US seem to hold little hope of stopping the Trump administration from going ahead. Instead, they are now hoping to defeat Trump in the 3 November elections.
Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is Ben Carson – who has a long anti-LGBT+ record. Indeed, he has even blamed the fall of the Roman Empire on same-sex marriage.
He has previously said LGBT+ Americans should not get ‘extra rights’ for housing. Moreover, he has dismissed being transgender as an ‘absurdity’.
Height, facial hair or an Adam’s apple
Obama’s Equal Access Rule governed any shelters which receive HUD funding. It required them to allow trans people into single-sex or sex-segregated shelters based on their gender identity.
The new Trump version says shelter operators can decide where to place these clients.
Moreover shelters can decide someone’s gender based on their own policies and ‘a good faith belief’.
To work it out, shelters can consider ‘a combination of factors such as height, the presence (but not the absence) of facial hair, the presence of an Adam’s apple, and other physical characteristics which, when considered together, are indicative of a person’s biological sex.’
Research by the Williams Institute shows LGBT+ youth make up 22% of homeless youth.
But trans people are at even higher risk. The 2015 US Transgender Survey found nearly one-third of transgender and nonbinary people experience homelessness at some point in their life.
For Black, Middle Eastern, multiracial, or undocumented trans people, that rises to a half.
Indeed, approximately 8% of transgender adults have been homelessness in the last 12 months. That compares to just 3% of non-trans LGB people and only 1% of cisgender, straight adults.
‘Needlessly putting lives at risk’
Luis Vasquez, from the Williams Institute, said:
‘Poverty and homelessness disproportionately impact transgender people, particularly transgender people of color and youth. This rule, if finalized, would negatively impact an already vulnerable population during a period of economic downturn.’
Meanwhile Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David, said:
‘Federal agencies have a responsibility to ensure programs are accessible to everyone who is eligible. But the Trump-Pence administration is deliberately finding ways to facilitate discrimination against vulnerable communities, particularly transgender women of color.
‘This is yet another instance of the administration’s blatant attacks on LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, while needlessly putting lives at risk.
‘They should reverse this proposal immediately. We will not accept yet another attack on us. We will hold them accountable at the ballot box.’
HUD’s new rule is a further Trump administration attack on LGBT+ rights. It comes after the US Department of Health and Human Services administration erased trans healthcare protections under the Affordable Care Act in June.