The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is working to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender people in homeless shelters by allowing even those receiving federal funding to refuse to offer services based on an individual’s gender identity.
HUD-funded, single-sex facilities were instructed under the 2016 guidelines that “the individual’s own self-identified gender identity will govern,” and those operators were to “provide equal access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with an individual’s gender identity.”
Under a proposed rule change, shelters would instead be allowed to establish a policy considering “an individual’s sex for the purposes of determining accommodation within such shelters and for purposes of determining sex for admission to any facility or portion thereof.”
“The proposed rule permits Shelter Providers to consider a range of factors in making such determinations, including privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs, any relevant considerations under civil rights and nondiscrimination authorities, the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents, as well as the gender which a person identifies with,” it continues.
“The proposed rule does not dictate a required basis for making determinations other than that they be consistent with an overall policy. 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 proposal comes just one day after HUD Secretary Ben Carson told Rep. Jennifer Wexton before Congress that he was “not currently anticipating changing” the Equal Access Rule. Wexton tweeted Carson had either lied to Congress or was unaware of what his own agency is pursuing.
One day after @SecretaryCarson told me he isn't anticipating any changes to protections for LGBTQ people in shelters, HUD announced a proposal to gut that very rule.
He either lied to Congress or has no idea what policies his agency is pursuing. Either way, it’s unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/zn99sEKvth
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) May 22, 2019
“Later this year, HUD will be proposing a change to the 2016 rule that will offer local homeless shelter providers greater flexibility when making decisions about individuals who may misrepresent their sex to access sex-specific shelters,” a HUD spokesperson said in a statement. “HUD is, and will always be, committed to ensuring that every person accessing its programs can do so without discrimination.”
The move is similar to the Trump administration’s decision last year to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender inmates, moving from a case-by-case basis approach that took gender identity into account to a policy of using “biological sex as the initial determination for designation” for housing assignments, strip searches, medical care, and other services.