Under a rule to be proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the coming weeks, single-sex homeless shelters could choose to accommodate only people whose biological sex matches that of those they serve, The Washington Post reported Friday evening.
The proposed rule would eliminate 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 reports.
“A person denied entrance to a shelter on the basis of this policy must receive a transfer recommendation to another facility, the rule says. Shelter operators could also choose to continue determining someone’s sex on the basis of how the person self-identifies. But whichever approach is chosen must be applied uniformly and consistently, the rule says.”
News of the proposed rule change came hours after the Trump administration announced it was scrapping ObamaCare’s non-discrimination protections for sex and gender identity under a final rule change.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement that the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination will be based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”
Civil rights and transgender rights advocates have denounced the rule change as an attempt to remove protections for transgender people.
“This is yet another dangerous and disgraceful attack on transgender people from the Trump administration, as well as another attempt to license taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion,” said American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative representative Ian Thompson.
“When shelters are allowed to turn transgender people away — a policy that is sanctioned by a government that continues to push the lie that the mere existence of trans people threatens the privacy and safety of others — deadly violence against the trans community on the streets will rise,” he added.
Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, condemned the plan as a “heartless attack” in a statement.
“The programs impacted by this rule are life-saving for transgender people, particularly youth rejected by their families, and a lack of stable housing fuels the violence and abuse that takes the lives of many transgender people of color across the country,” she said. “Secretary Carson’s actions are contrary to the mission of his Department and yet another example of tragic cruelty of this administration.”