HUD Proposes to Roll Back Transgender Protections at Federally Funded Homeless Shelters
HUD recently announced a forthcoming proposed rule that would roll back protections for transgender people experiencing homelessness by allowing federally funded homeless shelters whose facilities are segregated by sex (such as bathrooms and sleeping quarters) to establish an admission policy that considers an individual’s sex and a range of other factors.
The proposed rule would turn back requirements under the 2012 Equal Access Rule, which aimed to ensure that HUD’s housing programs would be open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. As it currently stands, the Equal Access Rule requires that owners, operators, and managers of federally funded shelters “provide equal access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with an individual’s gender identity.”
HUD’s proposal would remove that federal protection for transgender people and would instead leave it up to local decision making, thereby allowing a single-sex or sex-segregated homeless shelter to deny admission to the facility due to an individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents. A summary of the forthcoming proposed rule states: “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. The proposed rule does not dictate a required basis for making determinations other than that they be consistent with an overall policy.”
At a House Financial Services Committee hearing on May 21, Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) asked Secretary Carson to assure the Committee that HUD does not have any current or future plans to eliminate the Equal Access Rule in rulemaking. Secretary Carson responded that he would not speak to what HUD would do in the future but when further pressed by Representative Wexton if he’s anticipating making changes, Secretary Carson replied, “I am not currently anticipating changing the rule.” HUD announced the proposed rule the next day.