Transgender: HUD Issues Rule to Protect Women in Homeless Shelters

Stella Tatola, a homeless woman staying in a women's shelter at the Sanctuary, cleans her
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Homeless shelters designed to house females now have protections so that women don’t have to share intimate spaces with biological men who “identify” as women, according to a new rule issued on Friday by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Washington Post reported on the rule, including the claim that the new rule will hurt transgender women:

The proposed rule would scrap the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance requiring such shelters to accept transgender people but retains its 2012 rule barring federal housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The agency had been working on the regulation since spring 2019.

Under HUD’s proposed new rule, details of which were obtained by The Washington Post, operators of single-sex shelters may consider someone’s biological sex — instead of how they self-identify — in making placement and accommodation decisions. They could “determine an individual’s sex based on a good faith belief that an individual seeking access … is not of the sex, as defined in the single sex facility’s policy, which the facility accommodates,” the proposed rule says.

The Post headlined its report “HUD to change transgender rules for single-sex homeless shelters” and described it as the “latest effort by the Trump administration to rewrite federal rules on how government programs provide for transgender people.”

Even while the left wing outlet admits in its story that “shelter operators could also choose to continue determining someone’s sex on the basis of how the person self-identifies,” transgender activists are “dismayed” by the rule, according to the Post, and included HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s remarks about the rule.

“HUD Secretary Ben Carson had previously expressed concern about the impact on residents of female-only shelters when transgender women are allowed to share bathrooms and shower areas,” the Post reported.

“I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women,” Carson wrote to staff in an email.

“The rule cites a lawsuit against Anchorage, in which a faith-based shelter claimed that female residents said they’d rather sleep in the woods than alongside biological males,” the Post reported. “It also notes a pending civil complaint in Fresno, Calif., from nine homeless women who allege that a homeless shelter enabled sexual harassment because a male identifying as female entered a shelter and showered with women.”

“HUD does not believe it is beneficial to institute a national policy that may force homeless women to sleep alongside and interact with men in intimate settings — even though those women may have just been beaten, raped, and sexually assaulted by a man the day before,” the rule states.

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