Friday, May 31, 2019

Years Of Work Undone

With a stroke of a pen all of our work has been undone, for me it started with a late night phone call. A call from a trans woman sitting out on the street at night in sub-zero cold.

She was just thrown out of a male homeless shelter for being a trouble maker. Why? Because some of the other residents threw a chair at her and hurled derogatory comments at her… so the shelter instead of throwing out the trouble makers they threw out the victim.
Homeless shelters could deny transgender people under proposed Trump administration rule
USA Today
By Kristin Lam,
May 23, 2019

A Trump administration proposal could allow federally-funded homeless shelters to deny services to transgender people, marking what advocates say is another attack on the community.

The proposal, published Wednesday, would rollback Obama-era protections to prevent single-sex shelters from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development rule change, homeless shelter operators could create a policy to consider "an individual’s sex for the purposes of determining accommodation within such shelters and for purposes of determining sex for admission to any facility or portion thereof."
Some of you might remember Jennifer Gale who died in Austin Texas when she couldn’t find a homeless shelter on a cold Texas night and some of you might think it couldn’t happen here in Connecticut because we have laws protecting us…. WRONG!
Editorial: Trump rolls back protections for transgender Americans
San Francisco Chronicle
Chronicle Editorial Board
May 25, 2019

The Trump administration is going backward on transgender rights. In just the past week it announced that it is eliminating “gender identity” as a factor in health care and changing rules on federally funded homeless shelters in a way that could result in discrimination against transgender people.

These policies represent a disturbing reversal of gains in providing transgender Americans with equal protection under the law.

Most significantly, the Obama administration had redefined discrimination in health care “on the basis of sex” to include gender identity. In 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against that policy, finding that “Congress did not understand ‘sex’ to include gender identity” as a basis for discrimination.

The Trump administration should have appealed that ruling. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new regulation that would align with the judge’s ruling.
The health care regulation was one of two federal rule changes that could sanction bias against transgender people. Also last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development rolled out a proposal that would allow federally funded homeless shelters to consider “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs” in deciding whom to admit.

Those conditions raise the possibility that homeless transgender Americans could be denied shelter on religious grounds or claims of practical problems. The Housing and Urban Development department has said it would allow shelter providers “greater flexibility when making decisions about individuals who may misrepresent their sex to access female-specific or male-specific shelters.”
When we* were doing training for the homeless shelters around the state we faced pushback from some of the shelters. One shelter manager said “No way I am going to let a woman with a p**is in to ‘my’ shelter.” We tried to tell him he has to; that he agreed to do so when he accepted funding from the state of Connecticut and from the federal government. The woman from HUD tried to tell him he had to but when still refused, she said “well give back the money.”

The shelter manager complained to our Senators and his 6th District Representative and they all said… obey the law!

Well that is all going to change under the Trump/Carson administration; they are striking our protection from the HUD policies that protect us and it will apply to any shelter receiving federal funding and that are all the shelters. But to make it even worst, their “religious special rights” policy will mean that federal policy will circumvent state laws. All a shelter would have to say to not allow a trans woman in a women’s shelter is say the magic words… “It is against my personal religious beliefs.”

So we are going to plunged back into the days of us freezing to death on a park bench.

*We =
CT Coalition to End Homelessness
CT Fair Housing Center
CT TransAdvocacy Coalition
HUD (Last year we were told that HUD would not participate in the training anymore)

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