On July 1st, 2020 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release announcing the essential reversal of the 2016 Equal Access Rule. The proposed modification would allow discrimination against transgender people seeking access to shelter through HUD-funded services by returning decision-making of who can access services to local shelter providers. In effect, this will have dire consequences for members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender (trans)* people experiencing homelessness.
Texas Homeless Network unequivocally states that people who are trans deserve access to safe, inclusive, and competent services regardless of the gender marker on their government-issued identification or sex assigned at birth. It is our mission to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring to all Texans, including trans individuals who experience homelessness at a disproportionately high rate.
One of out three, or 3,333 out of 10,000, people who are trans experience homelessness at one point in their lives compared to 0.0063 out of every 3, or 21 out of every 10,000, cisgender men. Nationally, 44 percent of the trans population experiencing homelessness were sheltered in 2018, while 56 percent are estimated to be unsheltered. By revoking the previous protections for trans people experiencing homelessness, HUD will undoubtedly increase the likelihood that trans individuals do not seek shelter because there is no guaranteed protection, increasing the potential of being denied services while being outed in their community or worse. HUD is choosing to put trans lives at-risk rather than offer them services.
We recognize that this proposed change is a step in the larger effort to discriminate against and systematically harm an already systemically oppressed population of trans individuals. With the recent destruction of healthcare protections for those who are trans and a long history of discriminating against trans and LGB+ individuals through dismantling protections to trans survivors, military personnel, employees, and students, trans people face a multitude of barriers to exist in America. Each discrimination increases the likelihood for an individual to experience homelessness due to losing their job, their family, their education, and/or their healthcare. And the level of discrimination and the unjust consequences of discrimination are even higher for Black trans individuals.
In response to this proposed change, THN is ready to protect and empower trans individuals in Texas. Per statute, HUD must open this change up to public comment.
Throughout this post we say transgender or trans to encompass the vast spectrum of ways people identify as including, but not limited to, trans female, trans male, genderqueer, non-binary. To learn more about trans identities click here.