The Trump administration has announced a proposed rule change that will modify the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Equal Access Rule and discriminate against transgender people and halt legal protections that ensure the safety of anyone in need of HUD-funded programs.
Ozone House forcefully opposes this rule change. This proposal will deter transgender youth from seeking care and safe shelter and push them towards more unsafe spaces which increases their risk for exploitation and abuse.
“The proposed rule, Making Admission or Placement Determinations Based on Sex in facilities Under Community Planning and Development Housing Programs (Docket No. fR-6152-P-O1), would allow Local Shelter Providers decision-making authority around a transgender individual’s sex and gender, thereby determining who is eligible for access to single-sex or sex-segregated facilities. By allowing federally-funded shelters to determine whether or not to appropriately house a transgender person, they are able to turn away individuals whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. This rule not only impacts transgender individuals, but allows shelters and housing placements to deny access to appropriate services for any person if their appearance is outside of gender norms. This proposed rule opens the door to further discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, and will undoubtedly exacerbate violence and homelessness among already vulnerable communities.” – Youth Collaboratory
Below is Ozone House’s full letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Dear Office of General Counsel:
I am writing on behalf of Ozone House in response to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule change published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2020 (RIN 2506-AC53; HUD Docket No. FR-6152-P-01) entitled, “Making Admission or Placement Determinations Based on Sex in Facilities Under Community Planning and Development Housing Programs.” We urge that this proposed rule change be withdrawn in its entirety.
As a service provider to young people experiencing homelessness, Ozone House opposes this rule because it creates a barrier for transgender youth experiencing homelessness to get the help and care that they are seeking. We know that gender minorities are more likely to experience homelessness than their cisgender peers. Up to 40% of youth who are homeless identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning. These youth are at higher risk than their peers for bullying, violence, exploitation, and discrimination.
Ozone House recognizes that the proposed rule change is a part of the current administration’s ongoing efforts to limit the rights and protections for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender people. This Proposed Rule would strip protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking HUD-funded shelter and is rooted in harmful and dangerous stereotypes about transgender persons, particularly transgender women.
HUD’s anti-transgender proposal allows temporary, emergency single-sex shelters to ask someone to provide evidence of their sex “based on a good faith belief” that the person seeking shelter is not of the biological sex that the shelter serves. Adopting this “good faith belief” approach, as opposed to simply accepting someone’s assertion of their own gender identity, invites sex stereotyping and invasive questioning by program staff.
Ozone House believes that moving forward with this proposed rule change in the midst of a global pandemic is particularly egregious and cruel. By limiting access to safe and healthy shelters for transgender persons, HUD’s rulemaking will create additional barriers for individuals to safely physically distance and self-isolate.
As we stated above, this proposal will deter young people from seeking care and safe shelter and push them towards more unsafe spaces which increases their risk for exploitation and abuse. We urge HUD to immediately withdraw its current rule change proposal and dedicate its efforts to mitigating the current effects that COVID-19 has had on housing stability for not only the LGBTQ+ community but for everyone. The country is in the midst of an economic, health, and housing crisis. The administration should be not devoting scarce agency resources to facilitating discrimination and perpetuating stereotypes.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the proposed rulemaking.