The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), headed by Ben Carson, has proposed a rule that would allow single-gender homeless shelters that are funded by taxes to consider factors like religious beliefs when determining who to admit – potentially harming homeless transgender people.
According to the Advocate, the plan would amend the Obama-era Equal Access Rule, which prevented tax-funded shelters from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
These shelters would now be allowed “to consider a range of factors,” including “religious beliefs… the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents, as well as the gender which a person identifies with” when determining who to admit.
“The proposed rule continues HUD’s policy of ensuring that its programs are open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” the description of the rule contends.
However, transgender advocates like Ian Thompson, the senior legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have criticized the rule for attempting to remove protections for homeless trans people.
“This is yet another dangerous and disgraceful attack on transgender people from the Trump administration, as well as another attempt to license taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion,” Thompson said in a statement. “When shelters are allowed to turn transgender people away – a policy that is sanctioned by a government that continues to push the lie that the mere existence of trans people threatens the privacy and safety of others – deadly violence against the trans community on the streets will rise.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) also came out against the HUD’s rule in a statement, calling it a “heartless attack.”
“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,” said Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the NCTE. “Secretary Carson’s actions are contrary to the mission of his Department and yet another example of tragic cruelty of this administration.”
According to the NCTE’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, trans people face high rates of homelessness; one in three experienced homelessness at some point in their lifetimes.