Ben Carson, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, defended the delay in implementing protections for transgender people in homeless shelters, claiming “there are some women who said they were not comfortable with being in a shelter” with “somebody who had a very different anatomy.”
In a House subcommittee meeting Carson was being questioned by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) about the removal of training materials to prevent LGBT discrimination in homeless shelters. Carson insisted the situation is “complex.”
“We obviously believe in equal rights for everybody, including the LGBT community,” he told Quigley. “But we also believe in equal rights for the women in the shelters, and shelters where there are men, and their equal rights.”
Carson added, “There are some women who said they were not comfortable with the idea of being in a shelter, being in a shower, and somebody who had a very different anatomy.”
Ben Carson just said he’s slow-walking regulations to protect rights of LGBT people in homeless shelters because ‘there were some women who said they were not comfortable being …in the shower with someone with a very different anatomy.’
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) March 20, 2018
In a statement, GLAAD claimed myths like the one perpetuated by Secretary Carson fuel trans discrimination and homelessness. GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis insisted Carson was “unfit to be the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
A 2015 survey revealed that one-third of respondents have experienced homelessness and 70% of those who did stay in a shelter reported high levels of mistreatment, including sexual and physical assault. Earlier this month, People for the American Way filed suit, calling for the release of all documents regarding changes in federal policy toward LGBT people.
Carson has a lengthy record of homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, predating his run for the presidency: In 2013, he compared gay people fighting for marriage equality to people who engage in bestiality and child molestation.
Two years later he infamously claimed homosexuality was a choice, insisting, “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight—and when they come out, they’re gay.”
That same year, he opposed “using our military as a laboratory for social experimentation” by allowing transgender service members to sere openly. “Give me a break,” he told a group of veterans, “Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else.”
Last year during his Senate confirmation hearings, Carson said he believed all Americans should be protected but that LGBT people and other minorities shouldn’t get “extra rights.”
Secretary Carson is also under fire for spending $31,000 on a dining room table for his office. In the subcommittee hearing, he claimed his wife, Candy, was responsible for the high-priced set. “I left it with my wife. The next thing that I, quite frankly, heard about it was that this $31,000 table had been bought.”