Donald Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, Ben Carson, proposed a rule that would permit single-sex homeless shelters that receive taxpayer funding to discriminate against transgender people. As an example, the policy would have allowed shelters to bar transgender women from women’s shelters, effectively limiting transgender women to sharing bathrooms and sleeping spaces with cisgender men. The proposal would have also allowed staff to try and verify the unhoused person’s sex assigned at birth. Thankfully the rule never took effect. Even better is that the Biden administration is withdrawing the proposal altogether, as Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge announced on Thursday, as reported by The Washington Post.
If you’re wondering where the initial transphobic proposal came from, it was likely in response to an inclusive effort from the Obama administration, when it was decided all programs funded by HUD would be open to all people—including transgender folks. And if there’s one scapegoat Republicans have loved especially in recent years, it’s the transgender community.
You might remember that in the Trump-era proposal, shelters would be able to deny transgender folks on the basis of religious beliefs. You might also remember Carson lamenting about the possibility of “big, hairy men” trying to sneak into women’s shelters while speaking at an internal HUD meeting. Along the same lines, the Trump guidance on how to identify a transgender woman is precisely as horrifying as it sounds.
Thankfully, Fudge is not spewing transphobia and mocking the most vulnerable people in our nation. In a statement on Thursday, Fudge stressed that access to reliable, safe housing is a “basic necessity.” She went on to add that: “Transgender and gender-nonconforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cisgender people.”
This is true: Transgender folks face barriers when it comes to seeking housing (in addition to reports of being evicted because of their gender identity), finding employment, and for transgender youth, even finishing high school with a diploma can be a nightmare. Systemic issues really do mount and leave many transgender folks without reliable housing, income, health insurance, or even safe family relationships.
As Daily Kos continues to cover, Republicans have no qualms about trying to turn the tide against transgender people—including transgender kids—as a means of distracting from the ongoing global pandemic. We’ve seen state lawmakers push bills that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, as well as bills that would bar physicians from providing gender-affirming care to minors. We’ve also seen efforts to prevent people from updating their birth certificates. There’s even a bill that would compel state employees (i.e., teachers) to report instances of gender nonconformity to parents.
Parents have gone viral for speaking on behalf of their trans children, as well as transgender youth themselves attending hearings to essentially plead with lawmakers for an inch of humanity. These stories are moving and inspiring for sure, but they also shouldn’t need to exist—transgender kids and teenagers already face barrier after barrier to simply enjoying adolescence. They shouldn’t need to beg lawmakers to see them as equals, too.