Transgender men and women who are homeless are being targeted by a proposed federal rule. It would allow federally funded homeless shelters to use a person’s physical characteristics, such as height and facial hair, in determining whether they belong in a women’s or men’s shelter.
Advocates say this could force homeless women, trans or not, into men’s shelters and possibly endanger them. New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone called this an all-too-typical move by the current administration.
“This is the worst time to be doing this kind of rollback,” he said, “and the discrimination is not only contrary to what I think is America's values but it is on par with a lot of other attempts by the Trump Administration to roll back protections for the LGBTQ community.”
A 60-day period for the public to comment on the proposed rule is now in effect.
The rule would essentially reverse an Obama-era rule that required homeless shelters to house trans people according to their gender identity. While the new rule would bar shelters from excluding people based on their transgender status, it would also allow shelters to ignore a person’s gender identity — and instead house them according to their assigned sex at birth or their legal sex. In other words, a trans woman can’t be turned away from a shelter for being trans, but she can be forced to go to a men’s shelter.
“It shouldnt matter who you love or what you look like or how you identify yourself,” said Pallone. “Everyone in the country deserves a safe place and a right to equal treatment under the law."
Pallone and his colleagues are leading more than 130 members of the House and Senate in a letter to the Trump Administration opposing the discriminatory rule. “I'm afraid that if this rule continues and doesn't get reversed, you're gonna see the Trump Administration doing even more to discriminate against the LGBTQ community,” said Pallone. “I mean, they certainly have a history of that, and so I think we've got to stop them now.”