Texas Homeless Network

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Transcending Discrimination: Addressing Housing Challenges on Trans Day of Visibility

Transcending Discrimination: Addressing Housing Challenges on Transgender Day of Visibility

By: Ava Paredes

This weekend is Transgender Day of Visibility. It is a day we can look back upon the many contributions transgender people have made to our communities as well as recognize the ongoing discrimination that they face as a marginalized group of people in our country. In 2023, over 300 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country. Many of these bills would infringe upon the rights of transgender people in numerous sectors of their daily lives, including housing. On this Transgender Day of Visibility, we will reflect on the barriers that trans people face in terms of acquiring and maintaining housing, and the intersectionality of transness and homelessness. 

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in five transgender people will face discrimination when seeking housing, and one in ten will be evicted because of their gender identity. This doesn’t include the young trans people who must flee from their homes due to someone in their life not accepting them. In fact, according to the Trevor Project, 16 percent of LGBT youth reported that they had slept away from parents or caregivers because they ran away from home, with more than half of them reporting that they ran away from home because of mistreatment or fear of mistreatment due to their LGBT identity. Many of these risk factors are further compounded by the violence that trans people face due to their identity.

Some of the barriers that transgender people face in acquiring permanent housing include things like having to use their deadname on housing applications, landlords scrutinizing their gender identity, and even suspicion when landlords learn that someone had a name change at some point in their life. Transgender individuals who experience homelessness are more likely to be on the streets unsheltered than sheltered. If we compound this with the health and safety risk factors that come with being transgender, it is clear that this is a very vulnerable population. 

While many of these facts and statistics may seem bleak, there are things that we can do to mitigate housing discrimination amongst transgender people as homeless service providers. And, under HUD’s Fair Housing Act, discrimination is prohibited against transgender individuals based on their gender identity. The Equal Access and Gender Identity rule issued by HUD essentially mandates that programs must place individuals in accordance with their gender identity; providers will not require any “proof” of an individual’s gender identity, and providers must update their policies and procedures to reflect these requirements. Even if you are not a federally funded housing project, doing simple things like affirming your transgender clients, using the names and pronouns they ask you to use, creating inclusive intake procedures, and ensuring a safe and welcoming program environment can lead to a more equitable program that is open to all. 

It is clear that the mere fact of someone being transgender can pose a direct threat to their housing stability. The introduction of anti-LGBT bills, as well as our current systems in place, will lead to further housing discrimination. But there are always things we can do in the homeless service community to make sure we are being as equitable as possible to our transgender friends. From lowering barriers to being accepting of the people in our lives who are brave enough to live as their authentic selves. We must remember to fight for the well-being and equity of the transgender people across Texas. But we also need to call for stronger legislation that protects transgender individuals against discrimination at all levels of our country, including housing. 

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Transcending Discrimination: Addressing Housing Challenges on Trans Day of Visibility
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