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Pallone Leads Bicameral Response to Trump Administration’s Discriminatory, Anti-Trans Housing Rule

July 30, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Congressman Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) today wrote to the Trump Administration opposing its proposal that would allow discrimination against transgender Americans seeking emergency and temporary shelter. In the letter to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, the Members urge the Trump Administration to rescind the proposed rule change to the Equal Access Rule that would allow federally funded emergency and temporary shelter providers to turn away transgender Americans. The letter was signed by 122 Representatives and 23 Senators. 

The proposed rule has already come under fire for instructing federally funded shelters to judge a person’s physical characteristics to determine where a person should be housed.

“The Administration’s proposal would severely obstruct the rights of transgender individuals. This rollback is cruel and particularly disturbing during a global health emergency and at a time of great economic hardship for millions of Americans,” said Congressman Frank Pallone. “Sadly, this proposal is on par with other attempts by the Trump Administration to roll back protections for the LGBTQ+ community. The Trump Administration must immediately abandon its plans to proceed with this rule and focus on providing equal and fair housing for all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

“This vehemently anti-trans proposal is a total departure from the mission of HUD and it will put lives at risk at a time when access to safe housing is absolutely vital. For more than a year now, Secretary Carson has cited no real evidence nor provided any credible justification for this rule change -- this policy is nothing more than a license for shelter providers to discriminate against transgender Americans,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “To suggest that there could be a set of physical characteristics for shelter staff to determine whether someone should be housed with men or women is abhorrent. It’s crucial that all Americans participate in public comment and speak out on why this policy is contrary to our values and a danger to the trans community.”

“Allowing shelters to turn away transgender people is unacceptable, but doing so during a global pandemic is particularly cruel,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “Federally funded shelters are supposed to be accessible to anyone who needs them. This proposal deliberately endangers the lives and safety of transgender people.”

“Denying transgender people shelter because of this President’s transphobia is dangerous and potentially deadly. From housing to health care to education to immigration to our military, this Administration has proactively sought policies to discriminate against transgender people wherever they live, work or learn. Transgender people of all ages will become homeless with no place to go if this bigoted, hateful rule is implemented,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III.

Removing protections in the Equal Access Rule would make transgender individuals vulnerable to homelessness in the middle of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. Transgender Americans already experience higher rates of homelessness and are more likely to face discrimination when seeking emergency shelter. Nearly one-third of transgender individuals experience homelessness at one point in their life and 70% report mistreatment in shelter due to their gender identity. Only 50% of the LGBTQ+ population lives in states prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The full text of the letter is available here.