Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Roof Over Our Head On A Cold Winter Night, That’s All We Want

For the last couple of years I have been working with other organization and HUD to training for homeless shelters. Ever since 2011 homeless shelters are supposed to allow trans to stay in shelters of their gender identity.
The Intercept
By Camille Baker
May 23, 2019

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION on Wednesday announced a new rule that would permit homeless shelters receiving Housing and Urban Development funds to turn people seeking shelter away based on their gender identity.

The plan, which is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget and could result in a formal change as early as September, would modify the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2016 Equal Access Rule. That rule, issued by the Obama administration, required single-sex or sex-segregated shelters to admit people based on their gender self-identification.

Civil rights advocates have slammed the Trump administration for the proposal, which could have particularly dire consequences for transgender people. Thirty percent of transgender people have at some point experienced homelessness, and transgender people of color are more than three times as likely as the total U.S. population to be living in poverty, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.

Shelters could consider factors such “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs, any relevant considerations under civil rights and nondiscrimination authorities, the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents, as well as the gender which a person identifies with” in deciding whether a person should be admitted to a shelter, an abstract published about the rule reads.
The proposal would also allow shelter providers to consider their own religious beliefs when deciding whether to admit a person experiencing homelessness. In explaining the change, HUD blasted the 2016 Equal Access rule for offering “no flexibility for faith-based shelter providers with deeply held religious convictions.”
Back in 2008 trans woman Jennifer Gale in Austin Texas was found dead after sleeping overnight on a bench when a homeless shelter wouldn’t let her in unless she use her male name and dressed as a male.
Even when they can access shelters, transgender women are uniquely vulnerable to abuse. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 70 percent of transgender survey respondents who stayed in a shelter in the year prior reported some form of mistreatment, including being harassed, sexually or physically assaulted, or kicked out because of their gender identities. They were also four times less likely to own a home than the overall U.S. population.
I became involved with homeless shelters when I got a call at around 11 PM on a very cold January night on the CT TransAdvocacy Coalition phone. The caller said she was just thrown out of a male shelter, she was put in a male shelter and was attacked by a couple of men who threw a chair at her. The shelter labeled her as the trouble maker even though she did nothing but defend herself from the attackers.

I called a friend at the CT Fair Housing Center and he found her a place to sleep at a women’s shelter.

When I posted the incident on Facebook a classmate from UConn School of Social Work who now is at CT Coalition to End Homelessness contacted me, out of that meeting came an ad hoc group to do training for homeless shelters. Including a woman from HUD and last year she told us that she could no long do training with us. So this policy comes as no surprise given the hate and animosity that the current administration has against trans people and LGBTQ+ people it comes as no surprise.

So we don’t have to worry because Connecticut has strong anti-discrimination laws to protect us… WRONG!

The way the new policy is written it also allows for religious discrimination and that will supersede state laws, so just by calming that allow a trans person in the shelter is against their religion they can not only refuse trans people but also they will be able to refuse unmarried woman with a child, interracial couple, and even someone from a different religion. So just like Jennifer Gale we might find another trans woman frozen on a bench outside of a homeless shelter.

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