New Front in Transgender Wars: Homeless Shelters

HUD logoThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is planned to finalize regulations in September that will allow people to stay in homeless shelters based on their perceived identity rather than their biological gender – which has set off a firestorm among many religious-run shelters.

The Hill is reporting on the latest dustup in the push for equality for transgendered persons which involves proposed regulation that will instruct homeless shelters to accept residents based on their perceived gender.

Shelters will also be told to disregard the “complaints of other shelter residents” who are uncomfortable with sharing quarters with the opposite sex.

“It is likewise prohibited to deny appropriate placement based on a perceived threat to health or safety that can be mitigated some other less burdensome way,” the proposal states.

According to David Stacy, government affairs director at the Human Rights Campaign, “Transgender women are women regardless of whether they were born male. If you’re a transgender woman and you walk into a homeless shelter and they treat you like a man, it’s traumatizing. These people are already vulnerable, they’re homeless, and they don’t have a job. To face discrimination the entire time they’re there is a real problem.”

The National Center for Transgender Rights claims that it conducted a survey which found that 55 percent of transgender people who stayed in homeless shelters say they were harassed by staff. One in four claims they were physically abused and 22 percent say they suffered sexual assault.

While no one is endorsing this kind of harassment, opponents of the regulation cite the obvious – women in homeless shelters who are seeking a safe haven from abusive husbands and boyfriends could be placed at risk if made to share the shower with men posing as women.

In fact, John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, said one of their guests heard a disturbing conversation on the street where one homeless person was telling another: “‘Dude, if you go down to the rescue mission and tell them you’re transgender, you can sleep in the women’s dorm and even shower with them.’ So that idea is out there, but I don’t know of any missions that have called the police because of it.”

At least not yet.

“No one is trying to make transgender people feel awkward,” Ashmen added, “but we’re concerned about the well-being and safety of everyone in our rescue missions.”

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, expressed his displeasure at having to “make room for people who are sexually confused at the expense of everyone else.”

“No one is in favor of beating up transgender people,” Wildmon told The Hill, “but why do you have to force other people to feel really uncomfortable, and in some cases unsafe, just to make your political point?”

The new rules will be part of the Fair Housing Act which already prohibits homeowners from refusing to sell or rent property to people based on their race, religion or gender, but HUD wants to expand those protections to shelters that provide short-term housing.

However, as The Hill points out, because Congress has not passed discrimination protections for transgender people at homeless shelters, the rules will only apply to those shelters that receive financial assistance from the federal government.

Proponents of the rule change claim the policy will not be a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for men who take advantage of the new rules to assault homeless women.

As the HUD rules state: “Nothing in this proposed rule is meant to prevent necessary and appropriate steps to address any fraudulent attempts to access services or legitimate safety concerns that may arise in any shelter.”

In other words, it leaves the door open to those “fraudulent attempts” – putting innumerable women at risk with nothing more than the assurance of prompt action should an assault occur.

In addition to these risks, religious groups who operate shelters and rely on government assistance to do so will now have to face the latest version of government-imposed social engineering which once again pits them against the beliefs they hold sacred.

“It makes no sense at all,” Wildmon said. “Good, Christian organizations that are trying to help people do not need Washington dictating their bathroom or bedding policies.”

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