Members of transgender and gender-nonconforming communities seeking assistance from federally funded homeless shelters will now be protected from discrimination based on their gender identity.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Tuesday published the final regulations that require federally funded emergency shelters to provide individuals with equal access to housing programs in accordance with their gender identity.
HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement that the new regulations are “another important step to ensure full acceptance of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in the programs HUD supports.”
“This new rule will ensure equal access to the very programs that help to prevent homelessness for persons who are routinely forced to choose between being placed in facilities against their gender identity or living on our streets,” Castro said.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
The latest news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Any federally funded shelter will be required to establish or amend operating policies and procedures to ensure that equal access is provided to individuals based on their gender identity.
The regulations note that transgender and gender nonconforming persons “continue to experience significant violence, harassment, and discrimination in attempting to access programs, benefits, services, and accommodations.”
A survey of 100 shelters in four states found that only 30 percent of shelters were willing to house transgender women with other women, according to a study by the Center for American Progress and the Equal Rights Center.
Homeless service providers reported to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness that “if given the choice between a shelter designated for assigned birth sex or sleeping on the streets, many transgender shelter-seekers would choose the streets.”
Julianna Gonen, policy director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Washington Blade that the new regulations provided “clear guidance” to homeless shelters to ensure the protection and dignity of transgender people.
“This new rule ensures that no transgender person will be denied shelter simply because of who they are and that transgender women, in particular, will no longer be forced to choose between being housed with men or going without shelter,” Gonen said. “This is a huge step forward for the transgender community and will empower transgender individuals who need shelter to stand up for their rights.”
The regulations will take effect in 30 days, on October 21.