HUD Secretary Ben Carson: Transgender Rights Not Above Those of Abused Women in Shelters

US Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing, on Capitol Hill, October 22, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson told a House Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday that the rights of transgender individuals do not supersede those of abused women when it comes to federally-funded homeless shelters.

During the hearing, Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) challenged Carson on his department’s proposed rule allowing federally-funded homeless shelters to set up single-sex bathrooms and sleeping quarters based on biological sex, not gender identity.

As CNN reported, Quigley claimed the rule discriminates against transgender individuals.

Carson responded, however, that HUD must consider the rights of women seeking shelter because they have been abused by men:

When you have a single-sex shelter, and it’s there specifically for women who are abused, and then people come in who do not appear to be women and say they’re women, and you have to accept them, does that impinge upon the rights of those women? We have a lot of documentation from those women that says it does impinge upon their rights.

“You’re the only person I have ever heard bring up that issue,” Quigley shot back at Carson. “So, you’re saying that because some people think it’s okay to discriminate, that you have to go along with that too.”

“That’s not what I’m saying at all,” the secretary replied.

Quigley pressed Carson again, accusing him of saying “that if someone doesn’t like someone else in that shelter, for whatever reasons, that you can allow discrimination against those people.”

“No, what I’m saying is we have to take everybody’s feelings into consideration,” the secretary said. “You can’t just select a group and say that their feelings trump everyone else’s groups.”

LGBT litigation and advocacy group Lambda Legal tweeted that Quigley “rightfully grilled” Carson about HUD’s proposed rule for single-sex homeless facilities:

When HUD proposed its rule last May, Carson was immediately criticized by Democrats, transgender rights groups, and their media allies.

The Washington Post, for example, wrote the new policy would “weaken Obama-era protections for homeless transgender people, allowing federally funded shelters to deny people admission on religious grounds or force transgender women [biological men] to share bathrooms and sleeping quarters with men.”

Similarly, transgender advocacy groups condemned Carson’s reclaimed protections for abused and homeless women that the Obama administration stripped from them gradually in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

Quigley appeared to be likening abused women seeking single-sex facilities in shelters to people “who think it’s okay to hate other people,” and accused Carson of allowing the federal government to back up those who want to discriminate against transgender individuals.

“This discrimination you’re hearing about, what, is this based on their notion of what their faith tells them it’s okay to hate other people?” Quigley asked.

“No one’s rights get to obliterate everybody else’s,” Carson responded.

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